Monday, 26 August 2013

Summer camping

We've visited a few new campsites this summer. First up was Searles Holiday Park in Hunstanton.

The pitch we booked was a mains serviced pitch, which had a hedge surrounding the pitch, 16 amp electric hook up, TV point, private water point, and private waste point. We were advised the pitch was 10x8 feet in size, on arrival we were fairly sure the pitch wasn't that size (some were but ours was one of the smaller ones), but our tent fit the space (just) and we had the privacy we wanted. The kids spent most of their time at the local park (when not being picked on by older children) and the rest of their time was spent riding their bikes and scooters up and down the holiday park roads. They had a lot of freedom to explore in safety, which was lovely. We visited the restaurant on the first night (food was OK but nothing to write home about), and we also swam in the indoor and outdoor pools (adequate, although the changing rooms weren't very good). Showers and toilets were clean and we never had to queue.

Hunstanton was a nice town, a bit run down in places but some areas were lovely. Plenty of coffee shops and cafes to choose from. We walked from Searles along the seafront to the centre of town and then back again, about 3 miles in total but easily managed by my kids. There is a good beach, a fun fair, a Sea Life centre, and a leisure centre along the seafront walk. At the entrance to Searles is a Tesco that stocks most camping supplies. Overall, the site was adequate but we wouldn't go again.

Our second camping trip was to Pillaton Hall Farm in Staffordshire, between Penkridge and Cannock. We've visited this site before and it didn't disappoint (apart from the stormy weather!). We choose two adjacent electric pitches within view of the children's play park and we had plenty of room and privacy. Since our last visit the owners have built a second play park for younger children. This one was nicknamed "The Sand Park" by my kids because it was completely covered in play sand. As a result, my kids had been banned from The Sand Park by the second day of our trip. The toilet facilities appear inadequate for a site of its size, only four showers for ladies and five toilets (in the main block; four other toilets were available around the site). However, I never had to queue for a shower, and only for a minute or two for the toilet. More consideration for fellow campers would've helped in that respect (some parents weren't very aware of what their children were up to). The toilet facilities weren't kept especially clean, again that was down to inconsiderate campers rather than the site managers. The site managers were very visible on site, rather militant with respect to BBQs and campfires. If you're not cooking on a fire you can't have one at all (they say). Just make sure you burn charcoal and not wood, and have some sausages handy.

During our stay we visited Coalport, the location of some Ironbridge Gorge museums. We had another trip down the Tar Tunnel and a walk around the Jackfield Tile Museum. We had a great meal at the Half Moon pub on the River Severn. Instead of revisiting Blists Hill Victorian Town, we spent a very wet day at the Black Country Living Museum, where we also had a trip on the Dudley Canal through the tunnels. I finally got my wish to visit Lichfield, and we had a walk around the cathedral and Dr Johnson's birthplace.

Our third trip was to another new site (for us), Wellington Country Park, which is located between Reading and Basingstoke. It had been recommended by a colleague of my husband, and proved worthy. By camping at the park we had full access to the park during the day, and once the park closed to the public we could use the facilities that were open (the adventure playground, the miniature golf, nature trails, and the play trails). We made full use of our stay and visited all areas of the park. We particularly enjoyed the deer park walks.

We paid for a premium electric pitch, which afforded some privacy (although we were on the road and were woken up on two mornings by small children climbing the trees behind our tent -- sad that some parents aren't aware what their children are up to at 7am). The pitch had no grass but was shallow earth and bark; we'd been advised to take rock pegs. We used the barest minimum to pitch because of the shelter afforded by the trees, but we lost almost all of them once we decamped.  Shower facilities at the campsite weren't the best, only three for women, and there were long queues every morning. The toilets also weren't kept very clean. There were very good washing-up facilities though (one plus point). There was no campsite play park for the kids (not that they needed one, with all the woods to explore); they could ride their bikes around the campsite (not the park though except after hours). We might return to this site because of the location, there are plenty of attractions in the area (we visited Hartley Wintey, Wokingham, and Bagshot, with Silchester Roman City on the list for next time). I'll just time my shower a bit better!

Our final camp was over the August Bank Holiday weekend. It was our annual Family Camp, and we'd booked with Brook House Farm at Crew Green (between Shrewsbury and Welshpool) in January to have three electric tent pitches, a shepherd's hut, a camping pod, and a room in their B&B. That's a lot of people! We turned up to discover the electric tent pitches weren't electric and weren't pitches either (an unmown, uneven, stone strewn, hole-covered sheep field). The shepherd's hut had also been double-booked and was unavailable. The owner was rude, unapologetic, and unhelpful, seemingly unaware of her responsibilities once you've taken a booking. She also went out onto the road to continue her abusive shouting after we had to park up nearby to do some online research and ringing around. What a nightmare woman! Not a site to be recommended at all (I will not post a link to the website, google if you like, but the website is deceiving).

After much ringing around I managed to secure three tent pitches at a campsite near Market Drayton, called Abdo Hill Farm. The owner went out of his way to help us, providing one of the pitches with an electric extension so we could at least blow up everyone's camp beds. Once we arrived we managed to sort out rooms at a B&B across the road, so we reaccommodated everyone. Relief all round!

The site was fairly new but had very good facilities nonetheless. The toilet and shower facilities were mixed sex, two toilets and two showers, a temporary solution for now until the owner can build separate facilities for men and women. They were kept very clean. There was a large play area for the children, which was superb, I rarely saw my two, they made a lot of friends there! The owner, Paul, lives on site behind the playground and is very visible walking around, talking to guests, and making sure everyone is happy. We had many long chats with him, he's got a lot of plans and I think he's going to do well with his site in years to come. We gave him some ideas (holiday lets, renting fire pits -- he's very happy for people to have campfires, washing-up facilities -- missing at present but not necessary) and he passed on his own plans for expansion. A proper genuine "good guy", it was a pleasure to meet him and know that there are people out there who will do their best for you when they don't really need to do anything.

Paul also passed on information about local pubs for food: The Bear at Hodnet, which we didn't visit; and The Red Lion at Wistanswick, which does excellent food, but if he tells you it's walking distance then you need to ignore him because it's near on 3 miles!! He also recommended we visit Hawkstone Historic Park and Follies (looked brilliant but we didn't have chance to get there), and he pointed out sites of local interest, such as The Wrekin (a big hill) and the Goose at Market Drayton (a real goose that drinks cider and has its own website). We would return to this campsite.

That's our summer of camping over with -- or is it? Any recommendations?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Belgian waffles

The Husband loves a waffle, and so do my kids. Breakfasts and puddings, at home and on camping trips. They're very tasty indeed.

I have a lovely friend who lives in Belgium and she kindly sent me her grandma's waffle recipe. I've adapted it slightly because hers makes about 100 and even we cannot eat that many.

Belgian waffles

Makes about 12 waffles

In one bowl:
250g plain flour
175g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In another bowl:
190g butter, melted

In a jug:
125ml milk
2 egg yolks, beaten together

In a third bowl:
2 egg whites, beaten until stiff

Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients with the milk/egg mixture and the melted butter. Once they are mixed, fold in the stiff egg whites. Leave the batter for at least an hour.

Lightly grease your waffle iron. Put 1-2 tbsp batter on each plate (will spread out itself). Cook for 3 minutes.

Serve with cream or ice cream, bananas or strawberries, chocolate sauce, syrup, or caramel, or a mixture, or plain!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Janathon: day 31, over and out

The last day of Janathon was possibly my best run session this month. Intervals! (I secretly love intervals.)

I joined our beginners group for short sprint intervals at a local underpass; we sprint fast up the hills and recover on the way back down. Because I was also going to be at the later intermediate session, I didn't take part in the session fully. I was "bike spotter" and enthusiastic supporter. I did run a couple of sprints as a way of encouragement and to give the beginners someone to chase.

At the intermediate session we headed to a local road that is fairly flat and well lit for some 400 m intervals. After a short warm up we alternated sprint/jog recoveries of 400 m, I managed 4 sprints before my body decided I'd had quite enough thank you. Splits of 1:33, 1:29, 1:25, and 1:25 are all around 6 min/mile pace.

Total distance run: 6.39 miles
Time taken: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 101.56 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 25 hours and 13 minutes

I'm so pleased that I managed to run 100 miles this month, and I've spent a whole day on Janathon!. I'm now having 2 days full rest before my half marathon training kicks in again with an 11-miler on Sunday.

If you want to know what I'm doing in February, you can find out here.


Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Janathon: day 30

2 blog posts to go...

Tonight was circuit training. 2 sets of 8 stations, repeated twice. Press-ups of various types, hamstring curls or squats on a bosu, ab curls with weights, star jumps, inverted row (using trx) or bicep curls, lunges with weights or kettlebell swing, plank, and jogging on the spot.

Pete was on a mission tonight to make us push ourselves. The motto for the evening was "failure is allowed". Which was a relief :)

Tonight's progressions:

- Full press ups with my feet on a medicine ball and, alternatively, holding dumbbells and doing a row after each press up.
- Single-leg hamstring curls with a heavy pole across our legs (fun).
- 16kg kettlebell swing.
- Heavier weights on lunges and ab curls.
- Squats on a bosu! (This is progress after being unable to squat for months because of Dodgy Knee.)

I wore my Garmin, which said I'd covered a mile during training and burnt 271 calories. I won't count the mile but those calories are a bonus.

Tonight's Janathon effort: an hour of circuit training, stretches, and a walk.
Total distance covered during Janathon: 95.17 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 23 hours and 53 minutes

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Janathon: day 29

No running today for Janathon, just an hour of Pilates. My knee is starting to feel sore again, I've been doing the ITB rehab so I'm confident it's strong, I'm just glad I've only got 2 more days to go so I can have a good rest before my Sunday 11-miler.

Felt quite pleased today. A friend approached me on the walk home from school and we got chatting about running and circuits. We've talked about exercise and weight loss before and I gave her some advice, which she's obviously taken because she is looking much fitter and slimmer. I persuaded her to come along to the Monday circuit class that I sometimes go to. She's quite shy but I'm happy she was brave enough to contact my friend who runs the class. I said I'd go with her for support! Looks like my 11-miler will be followed by a circuit class!

Today's Janathon effort: 1 hour of Pilates
Total distance run during Janathon: 95.17 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 22 hours and 53 minutes

Monday, 28 January 2013

Janathon: day 28

I am so glad Janathon is nearly over! I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know new people via Twitter, and it's been great reading other blogs and seeing some amazing running from other people. I'm just tired! Feb 1st is going to be SWEET!

After a rather distracting morning I was finding work quite hard to focus on, so I decided to go for my run before lunch rather than in the evening. (Glad I went when I did, it's now pouring with rain!) I was only really thinking about a quick mile or so, but then remembered I'd missed my interval session last week because of the snow, so I decided to do some 400 m sprints. Managed 4 fast intervals (2 at 7 min/mile, and 2 under 7.5 min/mile, happy with those).

Distance run: 2.27 miles
Time taken: 21 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 95.17 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 21 hours and 53 minutes

I wonder if I can make 100 miles by Thursday, the last day of Janathon?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Janathon: day 27

10 mile run before 8am, that can only mean one thing: an early morning alarm call.



I set my alarm for 5am to give myself time to wake up before I left to meet some friends at 6am. At 5am it was pouring with rain. My bed was warm and I didn't want to get up at all. I also didn't feel great, I won't go into detail. Needless to say I'd have preferred to run 10 miles in the afternoon...

Anyway, I'd already planned what gear to wear but in view of the heavy rain I decided to wear my waterproof jacket with a thermal top instead of a long-sleeve running top. I get a bit grumpy and miserable if I get too wet, and on long runs (when I run at a slow pace) I get cold easily too.

Set off to meet my friends at 5:50am, 11 of us in total were running. Stotfold Runners are an amazing group of people, very supportive of each other and such fun to run with. Had the obligatory group photo (we looked like extras from Tron) and then set off to Letchworth.

Our original plan had been to run an off-road route around Ashwell village, but after a whole night of heavy rain we thought the route would be too muddy. So we ran on the roads to Letchworth, along part of the Greenway, towards Baldock, and back home. Nice pace all the way, averaging 10.5 minutes per mile. Stopped a few times to regroup and check the route (and moan a bit).

Last few miles were quite hard for me. I have gastritis again (can affect runners in particular), suffice to say I started to struggle massively. My friend was just brilliant, we were chatting and got a bit hysterical too; I sang a song to her at one point (see clips, we couldn't remember how Happy Working Song started, but my friend sang that during a 10K race once). We also saw a huge bird ("it's a "pterodactyl!" [probably a heron]).



Didn't quite make 10 miles so I did that crazy run up and down my road until my watch clicked over.

Distance run: 10 miles
Time taken: 1 hour 49 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 92.90 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 21 hours and 32 minutes

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Janathon: day 26

My in-laws are visiting this weekend, so plans for a run were for me to run early and to not run for very long. However, my in-laws both run too, and just before Christmas we all signed up to run Stanley Park 10K on March 2nd. My mother-in-law was keen to run 4 miles today because it's on her plan. I agreed to accompany her, since it's still icy in places and I knew a good 4 mile route.

We took it slowly in view of the ice (although it is thawing quickly so it wasn't a problem). Just a few walk breaks were needed towards the end, but we ran about 4 miles in slightly over 45 minutes. Very happy mother-in-law tonight :)

Distance run: 3.97 miles
Time taken: 46 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 82.90 miles 
Total time taken on Janathon: 19 hours and 43 minutes

Friday, 25 January 2013

Janathon: day 25

Today I:

Walked to school and back (half a mile total)

Did some Gangnam style dancing (about 3 minutes)

One plank (1 minute)

I have guests. And it is trying to snow. So there.

Janathon effort: walking, dancing, and a plank
Total distance run in Janathon: 78.93 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 18 hours and 57 minutes

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Janathon: day 24

I wasn't too keen to run tonight because if anything its getting icier on the paths. The ice and snow is melting fast during the day but then freezing again after dark.

Running club was cancelled, which was a good decision for a group, but I still went for a run around town with a couple of club members who are also training for races at the moment. I had my health and safety hat on though and made us stick to a circuit of the village in case one of us fell. There's only so far I can carry a grown man ;)

Distance run: 4.76 miles
Time taken: 54 minutes
Total distance run in Janathon: 78.93 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 18 hours and 57 minutes


Finally, please spare a thought for my lovely mum, who unfortunately broke her wrist today after slipping on black ice. That was the reason for my reluctant run tonight (and slow pace when I went). Tomorrow I'll be doing sit ups in front of the TV.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Janathon: day 23

I can't believe how far along we are in Janathon now. Not long and it'll be over, and I'll be back to blogging once a week, if that :)

Today was a no-running day. I had a short unplanned run last night so I don't feel I'm missing out. Dragged the kids to school on the sledge again, my calves were burning today (we were a bit late).

In the afternoon I went swimming during my children's lessons, just 15 minutes of lengths. I covered at least 20, so that's 500 metres. I actually overtook people today, and eventually ended up behind a man with the biggest chest and shoulder muscles I've ever seen in real life. I might have swooned just a bit. Could also explain my speedy swimming :)

In the evening I had circuit training. The walk there was quite slippery, I've got used to wearing my ice grips so I was a bit useless! Hope it thaws a bit tonight. Anyway, circuits tonight was 4x4 stations, each station had 4 exercises (arm strength, leg strength, abdominal, and cardio), and we repeated each station twice. 32 in total. (Go me and my mental arithmetic.) My legs and shoulders ache already.

Today's Janathon effort: 500 metres front crawl (15 mins), an hour of circuits, sledge pull
Total distance run during Janathon: 74.17 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 18 hours and 3 minutes

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Janathon: day 22

After yesterday's school snow day (when I didn't go outside all day except for a quick Janathon run), today was always destined to be more active.

To start, the kids needed to get to school. Walking was too dangerous, the paths are still covered in packed snow on my estate and around to school, so they both got in the sledge, plus the big Bag for Life full of their book bags, lunches, and spare shoes, and I dragged them all the way: it's about a third of a mile.

And of course I had to walk home :)

Then another trip to and from school in the afternoon, plus sledge pulling, and I'd covered a mile at least, plus a weight workout :)

Later in the evening was Pilates. We did a lot of hip and thigh exercises today. I got "something" stuck in my left hip and found I couldn't manage some exercises. I'm not good at the sitting-down workouts at the best of times :(

I ran to Pilates and of course ran home again, the longer route. Same route I took last night actually, wearing my ice grips. Think YakTrax might get a couple of sales tomorrow. I should get commission!

Distance run: 2.49 miles
Time taken: 25 minutes
Other stuff: An hour of Pilates, sledge pulling!
Total distance run during Janathon: 74.17 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 16 hours and 47 minutes

Monday, 21 January 2013

Janathon: day 20

A long run of 9 miles was on the training plan for today. In view of the snow and ice I thought a trip into Letchworth and back might be safest so I could run on the roads. But after a lengthy discussion on Facebook with some club members who were also running, I decided to meet them for a 6-7 mile off-road run, and I would then make the extra mileage up afterwards.

We met at 7:15am, all slightly bleary eyed and wondering what we'd agreed to! (I'd already run a mile as warm up, to make some in-roads into my 9 mile total.) We decided to run up to Langford water tower, through Langford, along the Kingfisher Way to Henlow Lakes, then home. The route is across fields mainly, but would be fun in the snow (we thought).

The path was OK to begin with, but as we headed up the hill to Langford the snow started to get deeper. Eventually we were running in at least a foot of snow, perhaps two. The drifts were huge against the hedge at the top of the hill. I got the giggles a bit because it was so deep and I had to jump to get over the snow.

Once we hit the road we were much faster and managed a fast 9.5 min mile into the village. We then turned onto the Kingfisher Way, which was OK up until an ice lake filled our path. I tried the option of going through the field rather than the lake, but I just sank into mud, so we tried skirting the edge by the hedge. I gave up and decided it would be quicker to just wade through. I then had two cold wet feet to run with, but I wasn't worried about getting a branch in my face.

Part of our route


As we ran along the road to Henlow Lakes, which runs past the Champneys spa, the road became very icy and slippery, and there were a few stylish slip-and-save moments, and one instance of "inspecting a rare ant", but no casualties, which was a good thing.

The last part of the run, we decided to "learn the route" behind Etonbury school. I've never run this path, and it was really lovely. Except it added about a mile onto our run and I turned my ankle at least three times. Some swearing took place.

At the end, we'd run 8.5 miles. Some 6-7 mile route that turned out to be! Another half a mile to run home and I'd run 10 miles! Next week I'm running to Letchworth and back...



Distance run: 10.03 miles
Time taken: 1 hour and 54 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 69.29 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 15 hours and 57 minutes





Janathon: day 21

I left today's run until quite late, mainly because I didn't really fancy running on packed snow. But a slight kick up the bum from the penguin who knits and the goth who runs via Twitter made me head out for a quick mile or so.

I decided to wear my snow grips tonight, I didn't want to risk anything. They make me feel all springy when I run (probably because I'm running on springs) and the grip they provide is just great.

YakTraxs 
Tried a new path tonight to see where it went, always like trying a new path :) Also saw a great snowman, which I'll post a photo of tomorrow.

Distance run: 2.39 miles
Time taken: 25 minutes
Other stuff: Ab workout and ITB rehab
Total distance run during Janathon: 71.68 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 16 hours and 22 minutes

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Janathon: day 19

Very icy today so I kept my run to a mile. Nearly fell over outside my house, everywhere else was fine. I obviously relaxed when I saw the finish line :)

Not sure if my drunken half mile walk home from the pub at 1am can count for today, or the hour meander around Ikea at lunchtime. Good job I had a run then :)

Distance run: 1.08 miles
Time taken: 11 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 59.26 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 14 hours and 3 minutes

Friday, 18 January 2013

Janathon: day 18

It's a lovely feeling to get my run out of the way before 9:30am. Dropped the children at school and then headed off for a quick circuit of town. It was so cold! Passed a friend going the opposite direction and I shouted "I can't feel my nose!". He replied "I can't see you, I'm not wearing my glasses". Comedy.

The plan to run 3 miles was swiftly changed to 2 in view of the cold and the fact I was worried about my fingers, toes, and nose freezing (toes and nose had gone numb, fingers were going that way, even with two pairs of gloves). Even managed some random acts of kindness by retrieving food bins that had blown into the main road. I'm just too good to you lot you know.

Distance run: 2.11 miles
Time taken: 21 minutes
Random acts of kindness: 2
Total distance run during Janathon: 58.18 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 13 hours and 52 minutes

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Janathon: day 17

I was a bit grumpy yesterday after weighing myself and seeing YET AGAIN that I've gained weight. Not just a little bit either, I'm nearing Overweight on the Wii Fit chart.

At first, I couldn't quite understand how it happened. I run or exercise daily and eat "fairly" healthily, plus I don't look overweight and I can still fit into my clothes. What gives? I'm either eating too much during the day, thinking "I'll burn it off tonight when I run", or I'm snacking too much after exercise "for recovery" (I need a lot of recovery food, particularly chocolate).

I think now I'm not drinking alcohol that I could be overcompensating by eating snacks instead, or drinking fruit juice, which is high in sugar (and calorie-rich).

Hey ho, refocus needed. I'm back logging EVERYTHING on myfitnesspal, aiming at 1200 calories a day (plus a bit extra when I run). Water or tea instead of fruit juice. And variations on salad to keep me interested. Today I made a Thai cucumber salad, it was delicious with some prawns. Much healthier than the leftover spag bol I had my eye on for lunch.

This evening was running club, two runs in the cold (although, warmer than yesterday!). First up was beginners group, I ran-walked for 2 miles with a lovely couple who brought their baby along for the session. He had a sleep and we had a jog.

After that was intermediate group. I was up for a fastish 5 miles but my heart monitor was too tight and I felt rather constricted and was struggling to get my breath. So I took the sensible option and turned round after 2 miles, making the second run 4 miles.

Including my runs to and from club, tonight's total was...

Distance run: 6.64 miles
Time taken: 1 hour 17 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 56.07 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 13 hours 31 minutes


(Is anyone checking my mental arithmetic by the way? I'm pretty rubbish at addition.)

Thai cucumber salad

I made this salad for lunch today and thought I'd share the recipe since it's really delicious, and low in calories and fat too. It also uses Thai fish sauce, and I never know what to do with my bottle of Thai fish sauce.

Serves 2 (about 160 calories a serving)

1 cucumber, chopped into cubes
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used green)
1 red onion, diced
a handful of peanuts, chopped roughly (I used 30 g jumbo salted peanuts. You could substitute for dry roast peanuts or your favourite nut, or omit entirely!)

For the dressing:
2 tbsp lime juice (or juice of one lime)
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp dried coriander leaf
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Dress with the dressing. Easy!

I've just added this recipe to Mrs M's Recipe Link Party for January.




Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Janathon: day 16

I've just weighed myself and I'm a bit pissed off. Hoping my Wii Fit board is broken. If it's not then I'm eating too much chocolate. Bloody hell. I like chocolate too.

I didn't swim today as planned because it was cold (wuss). Instead I went to circuit training for an hour, it was really good and I'm starting to feel much more confident again.

After circuits I had a quick run to break in the new trainers. Just 1.25 miles but I couldn't have gone any further, it was so cold my face was starting to hurt!

Distance run: 1.25 miles
Time taken: 13 minutes
Total distance run in Janathon: 49.43 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 12 hours and 14 minutes

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Janathon: day 15

In my training plan for today I had scheduled a rest day from running. I'm not as shattered as I was last Tuesday, but I'm sticking with the plan regardless.

Usual Tuesday activity includes the school run (walking to and from school, twice, about a mile total, but I'm not counting!) and Pilates in the evening.

At the end of December I still wasn't convinced I enjoyed Pilates. I found it hard to remember how to stay "neutral" and when to breathe, and I couldn't do a lot of the exercises fully because of my weak hips and unstable everything.

I've begun January as I mean to continue, by doing several tricky Pilates exercises at home as part of my Physio rehab. And it has paid off already. Tonight's class was great because I could manage the exercises and a few progressions. Hooray for persistence :)

Today's Janathon effort: Pilates for 1 hour
Total distance run during Janathon: 48.18 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 12 hours 1 minute

Monday, 14 January 2013

Janathon: day 14

Day 14! That's 2 weeks of blogging. Well done me. 2 weeks of exercise without a break too, also good :)

With all* the snow that fell today, and the cold temperatures I ran in yesterday, I was a bit concerned about tonight's run. I don't particularly enjoy running on ice, although snow and slush I can manage fine.

*2 cm, if that.

I dressed for the conditions. Thermal top, long-sleeve top, jacket, long tights, Buff as a scarf, hat, and gloves (only 1 pair, I couldn't find a second set).

The cold air hit me as I stepped out of the house, so I was glad I had wrapped up warm. I wasn't planning on a fast run because of the potential for ice so I suspected I wouldn't get all that warm.

1 mile in, I removed my hat. After 1.5 miles I unzipped my jacket. The lack of ice meant I managed a fair pace. (I was running with a friend who is a lot faster than I am so she was dragging me along!)

The good news is (1) I didn't fall over and (2) my muddy trainers are now pristine. I might go for a run in my other pair tomorrow...

Distance run: 3.24 miles
Time taken: 32 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 48.18 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 11 hours 1 minute

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Janathon: day 13

Today has been especially lazy, a lovely lie in followed by roast dinner and ironing (erm, not so lovely). The laziness meant that today's Janathon effort was delayed until the afternoon.

It was really cold when I set off and seemed to get chillier with every minute. I was wearing gloves but my hands were still frozen when I got back. But, almost 8 miles in 1 hour and 20 is pretty good. I was aiming at a slowish pace to contrast with yesterday's speed session. Objective met :)

Distance: 7.91 miles
Time taken: 1 hour 20 minutes
Distance run during Janathon: 44.94 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 10 hours 29 minutes


Saturday, 12 January 2013

Janathon: day 12

I woke up without an alarm this morning. It makes such a difference! To see it was 7:40am was nice too (instead of 5:55am, which is when we get up in the week). I felt quite awake and the house was lovely and quiet, meaning no-one else was up. I decided to go for my run while the going was good and then tackle breakfast when I got back.

Stealthiness is not my number 1 quality, but I made it out of the house without waking any children at least (sorry hubs). I had scheduled a 3 mile hill training session today but the nearest hill is a mile and half away so decided that was just plain silly. I set auto lap on my Garmin to 0.25 miles and set off to run alternate slow-fast laps. I managed 4 fast sprints (7:45, 7:00, 7:00, 7:15) and 6 slow recoveries, making a good 2.5 mile interval session. Quite pleased with that, I've never managed to complete my own interval session successfully, I usually give up and just run "fast" for a bit.

Now I just need to remember to reset auto lap to 1 mile for tomorrow else my long run is going to be beeptastic.

Later in the morning we went to Sweatshop in Hatfield so I could have video gait analysis on a treadmill. I've not had motion analysis (on a treadmill) for 2 years, since I started running. When I started running I overpronated. Last year I was analysed visually at Trisports in Letchworth and they told me that I had developed a neutral gait but I was a heel striker (also, that I had lovely arches!). Today's analysis was good news (for me); after much work these past months (physio rehab) I'm still a neutral runner but now I forefoot strike, which has been one of the aims of the rehab. At least rehab is working :) I also decided that although it was strange to see myself run on video, I do have quite nice ankles. I'm going to add that to my CV.

I also picked up some Pilates resistance bands to give my evening workouts a bit of oomph. I use these at circuits for arm strength and at Pilates for leg stretches, so they will be very useful at home to continue these workouts.

Enough wittering on! Stats!

Distance: 2.5 miles
Time taken: 23 minutes
Other stuff: Abdominal workout and 1 plank (1 minute)
Total distance run during Janathon: 37.03 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 9 hours and 9 minutes

Friday, 11 January 2013

Janathon: day 11

Finally! It's Friday :) My children always have a "sleepover" in my son's room at the weekend (he has a high sleeper with another bed underneath). After their tea they were treated to a bowl of popcorn each and a film to watch in bed: tonight's choice was Labyrinth, which is a personal favourite ;) I watched the scary first bit when the baby gets taken by Bowie (and had my hair clipped and styled by my daughter at the same time). Then when they were settled I could think about my run.

It was a bit of a later one tonight, I didn't get out until 8:20pm. But not really a problem because I had only planned to run a circuit of my town, which is on roads and fairly well lit. The only nagging worry was knowing that last night at about the same time there had been a knifepoint robbery at a local chippy (which was on my route). Bit of a shock because I live in a small town where hardly anything happens. I decided it was irrational to worry about it and went anyway. And all was well, I saw the chippy owner at work too and he seemed OK.

And when I got home the kids were STILL up watching the film, so I got another hair brushing and styling and then forced them into bed! I'm nurturing a budding hairdresser I think :)

Distance: 3 miles
Time taken: 29 minutes
Other stuff: ITB rehab and 1 plank (1 minute)
Total distance run during Janathon: 34.53 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 8 hours and 46 minutes

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Janathon: day 10

I'm not only doing Janathon, I'm also (unofficially) doing Dryathlon (my pedantic nature insists this should be dryathon, if you're puntastically using the -athon ending from marathon).

So, I'm not drinking any alcohol during January at all (excluding the brandy-infused Christmas cake that I'm desperately trying to finish/eking out so it lasts all January). With this in mind, I thought by now that I would've noticed some difference in myself. For example:
  • I wouldn't feel like crap in the morning (I'm not really a morning person/I like to complain)
  • My skin would look healthier (it does, but that could also be because I'm using all my Christmas body lotions in one go)
  • I'd be full of energy (possibly Janathon contributing to the lack of energy)
  • I'd weigh less (I've GAINED weight!!).
So I'm feeling a bit miffed if I'm honest. And yesterday I decided to look at ALL the wine we have in the cupboard that's left over from Christmas (there's a lot), and the two bottles of whisky I got for Christmas, and all the port, and that homemade booze my mum made for me. I resisted the urge to sniff everything to satisfy myself.

OK, in truth, I'm not missing the alcohol, at all. It's an odd feeling. I'm now used to sticking the kettle on for a cuppa in the evening instead of reaching for the bottle opener. I've got used to the taste of faintly flavoured water (it's "OK"). But why am I not losing weight? Damn you fat! (Oh no wait, that'll be the Christmas cake...)

Back to Janathon, tonight was Stotfold Runners club night, yay back to the runs! Beginners was at 7pm followed by intermediates at 7:30pm. I'm a volunteer helper at the club so I help lead one of the groups and provide advice when needed. I ran 2.46 miles (0.3 miles was me running to club) at 11 min/mile with a Twitter friend who I'd met once before I think. Anyway, that was just great, and I had a chat at the end with a couple who'd brought their son along in a buggy with super-huge wheels designed for running. Wow, I really wish I'd been running when I had my babies.

The next group run was a fast 4.02 miles (average 8:30 min/mile). I purposely set off with a faster group to ensure I pushed myself and ran a good tempo run. It's a great training tip for those of you who want to get faster. We were all running fairly slowly until we reached a hill and one of the runners sped off. I decided to join him, and that spurred a bit of a charge! Everyone loves a competition. I was planning 5 miles but decided to make it 4 since I was a bit knackered after all that!

During the day I did an abdominal strength routine of 50 ab curls, 20 reverse crunches, 30 bicycle curls, 15 back extensions, and a plank (1 minute). My aim from now on is to do this routine 3 times a week, increasing the number of each exercise as I get better.

Distance: 6.48 miles
Time taken: 1 hour and 4 minutes
Other stuff: Abdominal exercises (untimed)
Total distance run during Janathon: 31.53 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 8 hours and 16 minutes

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Janathon: day 9

I'm feeling very positive today. Yesterday's blog post was quite therapeutic to write, if a bit depressing to read (sorry about that)! I realised that I definitely cannot run every day in January, to do that would risk injury and illness.

This morning I had a look at my training plan, which is on FetchEveryone, and changed a few bits. I've completely removed the Tuesday run so I just do Pilates on that day, and I've removed the Wednesday session too in favour of a 15 minute swim while my children have their lesson. So I will have 2 rest days in a row, but that should keep me rested enough for the 5 runs I've planned. Monday will be an easy 2.3 mile loop of town, Thursday is club night (varied runs, depends on attendance), Friday will be another town loop, Saturday a speed session (no longer than 4 miles), and Sunday will be long-run day (I'm not going to cut this despite the anonymous advice, thanks anyway for that).

I'm also determined to remember to do my physio ITB rehab. It's so easy to forget this now I don't have to do it daily. Some Janathoners have posted some great clips of ITB and hip exercises, which I've found inspiring and have given me a kick up the arse to do my rehab!

So today for Janathon I had a quick 15 minute swim (front crawl), a total of 20 lengths of the pool (500 m in total if my multiplication is up to scratch).

I also did my ITB rehab routine of clams (10 each side), prone leg raises with bum clenches (10 per leg), lateral leg raises with toe straight (10 per leg) and down (10 per leg), cross-leg raises (my description! I basically lie on the floor and draw a V with my leg; 10 per leg), single-leg squats (10 per leg), ankle rolls (15 each side), standing "donkey" kickbacks (10 each leg), cross-body leg swings (10 per side), and a plank (1 minute). I'm aiming to do this routine 3 times a week, increasing the reps as I get stronger. The exercises are targeting my quadriceps, adductors and hip flexors, and gluteal muscles.

Distance: 0 miles
Time taken: 0 minutes
Other stuff: 15 minutes of swimming and ITB rehab
Total distance run during Janathon: 25.05 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 7 hours and 12 minutes


Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Janathon: day 8

Urgh. Today has been a bit rubbish as far as my mental health is concerned. I'm notoriously stubborn, if I set my mind to something then I really DO have to do it, no matter what anyone says. So when I changed my planned run yesterday from 4 miles to 1 mile that was a BIG THING for me. So much so that I definitely wasn't going to deviate from the plan for today.

When I woke up this morning I felt so achey and sore. My unplanned Monday circuit class has taken its toll on my shoulders, arms, and thighs: I was feeling weak and tired. My plan to run 2.5 miles after I'd dropped the kids at school just didn't seem an attractive idea. "No problem", I thought, "I can run it tonight".

Yes, usually I could run in the evening. But Tuesday is a bit mad in our house, with after-school activities to get my children to, dinner to cook and eat, pick ups to make, Pilates for me.

Inevitably the run has not happened. How do I feel about that? A bit crap if I'm honest.

I did jog with my son to beavers at 6pm, there and back was 0.79 miles. Not the mile a day I've been aiming at. And it hardly counts (I went out in my jeans!). I also walked to school and back twice (I always do this though so I never count it as exercise).

After getting back from Pilates I immediately ate 4 digestives with a cup of tea while I had a think about today. With hindsight, I realise I DO feel better for having a rest today. I have to be realistic; I've had a knee injury, I'm not 100% fit, I've never run for 7 days in a row before, so yesterday was a great achievement and today I was sensible (I don't like that word though!).

So today's Janathon, an hour of Pilates and 0.79 miles of jogging (8 minutes).

Distance: 0.79 miles
Time taken: 8 minutes
Other stuff: 1 hour of Pilates
Total distance run during Janathon: 25.05 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 6 hours and 57 minutes

Monday, 7 January 2013

Janathon: day 7

Last night I had nothing planned for today other than a 4 mile tempo run. Then a friend posted on Twitter to remind locals about his Monday morning circuit training class. He also said that well-behaved children were welcome to come along.

"Ah, yes. Monday is an inset day", I thought, "the children are still off school", getting in my way and NEEDING things all the time. So I booked into the class. They ARE well-behaved after all. Criteria met. Plus it would keep them entertained for an hour or so, they'd see their friends, and then I could let them watch DVDs for the rest of the day without a trace of guilt. Hurrah.

So circuit class was attended, I ran about and did stuff and sweated a bit. I'm still not completely confident at the exercises, having missed about 3 months of classes and feeling I've lost a lot of conditioning and strength. Anyway, done.

During the warm down and stretch, I was chatting to my friend about my daily running, and how last week I'd run a marathon in total (*happy face*). He then gave me some advice (CAUTION: I hardly ever listen to advice and rarely take it when I do). Bearing in mind I'd not run that much in November and December, perhaps I shouldn't be running so far every week. Maybe I should just run 1 mile every day or so.

So I had a think, and I decided that he was probably quite right. So tonight's 4 mile run turned into a run of 1.42 miles. Albeit, a sprint interval session (whoops). Oh well, 1 mile though. See, I can listen, sometimes.

Distance: 1.42 miles
Time taken: 14 minutes
Other stuff: 45 minutes of circuit training
Total distance run during Janathon: 24.26 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 5 hours and 49 minutes

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Janathon: day 6

Today marks my 7th day running in a row. I've never run so many consecutive days without a rest and, considering I've had a knee injury, I'm feeling great (if a bit tired!). The mix of easy and tempo paced runs, and varying the distance or route every day, has kept the week interesting.

I'm currently in training for the Baldock Beast half marathon. Today is long run day, and the training plan called for a 6 mile run. I decided to run the route of the Standalone 10K, a local race that passes through my town. The route meant I could stay on the pavement and didn't have to go off-road onto the quagmire of the Letchworth Greenway.

For the first 2 miles I ran at a pace that felt easy, which turned out to be just over 9 minutes a mile. I decided to maintain this pace if I could for the whole run. Of course, mile 3 was uphill and a bit of a struggle! I managed to stick at my intended pace, so I'm very pleased about that. I ran 7 miles, rather than 6.21, in 1 hour and 4 minutes.

Distance: 7 miles
Time taken: 64 minutes
Total distance run during Janathon: 22.84 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 5 hours and 35 minutes

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Janathon: day 5

Today I ran in North Herts Road Runners' 1st Saturday 5K on Norton Common in Letchworth. The course was really muddy so my aim was to run the race without incident. I didn't want to fall over and I didn't want to injure myself!

Leading the way!
Finished in about 27:30, time is irrelevant really, I just ran to have fun and meet up with my club friends. I was so happy at how many Stotfold runners came along, I think there were about 15 or more, and considering the total number running was 79, we definitely showed off our club spirit :)

Distance: 3.07 miles
Time taken: 27 minutes and 30 seconds
Other activity today: Gardening, and a walk around the shops!
Total distance run during Janathon: 15.84 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 4 hours and 31 minutes

Friday, 4 January 2013

Janathon: day 4

Friday is usually one of my two rest days a week. So I really had to motivate myself to go out for a run. A mince pie eaten with ice cream after dinner was all the motivation I needed.

Distance: 2.33 miles
Time taken: 21 minutes
Other exercise today: musical bumps at a kids' party
Total distance run during Janathon: 12.77 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 4 hours and 4 minutes

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Janathon: day 3

As I write this my hands are still trying to warm through after run club. I didn't take gloves because it was quite warm at 7pm. But by 8:15pm the temperature had dropped and by the time I arrived home my fingers were completely numb and I could barely use my key.

Club night was a bit back to front. Beginners was at 7pm and usually consists of a run or run/walk of no more than 2.5 miles (all we can usually fit in within 30 minutes). Tonight a lady came along to accompany her friend, and she was quite speedy. She set off at a fast pace and was soon running solo. We don't leave anyone to run alone, so I sped up and ran with her. 3 miles at 9 min/mile pace. Quite a warm up!

By the time we got back at 7:30pm the intermediate group were starting to arrive. This group can run anywhere between 3 and 7 miles and at very varied paces. I was going to head home but as one of the coaches I sort of felt obliged to stay, particularly because a newish member was there tonight. So, another 3 miles was run, at a much slower pace! I accompanied a friend who is also coming back from a bad knee injury. Overall, 6.35 miles run in about 1 hour and 13 minutes (there was some stopping and chatting in between groups but I didn't stop my watch).

Also took my children on an hour's walk around our local nature reserve today. After a 4-hour ironathon this morning I needed some fresh air, and my children hadn't been outside all day. Wellies were needed, the mud was up to our ankles! When we arrived my son read the information board and decided he was going to look for a water vole, my daughter said she wanted to find a frog. They made so much noise on the walk that all wildlife fled for the hills. So we saw nothing except a few ducks, swans, and pigeons.

Distance: 6.35 miles
Time: 73 minutes
Other stuff: scaring local wildlife for an hour
Total distance covered in Janathon: 10.44 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 3 hours and 43 minutes

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Janathon: day 1



I wanted to take part in Janathon last year but just never quite got my arse in gear. The idea is to run (or do some form of exercise) every day in January and blog about it. I'm not sure I can run every day, with my dodgy knees that might not be a good idea, but I can definitely exercise every day in January.

Today didn't start very well. A cracking hangover from New Year's Eve saw me on the sofa regretting drinking that one last Black Russian and "who the heck did I text again?" A soak in the bath, another sleep, and a rather fabulous roast dinner cooked by the husband and I was back in business. Decided to run after dark because quite frankly my running tights do NOT fit well at the moment and no one needs to see that...

Distance: 2.33 miles
Time: 23 minutes
Total distance covered in Janathon: 2.33 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 23 minutes

Janathon: day 2

I had great plans for day 2 of Janathon. My children usually have their swimming lesson on a Wednesday afternoon, so I was planning a 15 minute sprint swim thing, but that didn't quite go to plan. We arrived at the pool to discover the lessons don't restart from the Christmas break until next week.

Just as well I had booked into Pete Luxford's circuit training class before Christmas, so I have some training to blog about. I ran the short 0.42 miles to the class, then endured a rather intense 50 minutes of various cardio, strength, and ab exercises. I've been recovering from a knee injury so this was only my second circuit session back since I was declared "fit". I then ran 1.34 miles to get home, although I was aiming to make today's total 2 miles, never mind.

Distance: 1.76 miles
Time: 17 minutes
Other stuff: 50 minutes of circuits
Total distance covered in Janathon: 4.09 miles
Total time spent on Janathon: 90 minutes
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