Archive for August 2012

Pacing, racing and off-piste posting   Leave a comment

Image Am yet to work out how to get the photo to appear at the bottom of the post. Blast. Oh well, here I am at the end of the track 5k I describe below! 

Hello! Yes, it’s Friday. Thought I’d post today as I actually have something to say and also I won’t be able to do my usual Sunday post as I will be rolling about in the sand at Yellowave attempting to play beach volleyball with the Arena crew.

Firstly to catch up. On Wednesday it was the usual downs run. Although it had been a pretty miserable, wet and windy day when we arrived on the top of the downs, though looking ominous, it wasn’t raining. It was pretty dark and windy though. But, hardy souls that we are, we set off unperturbed into the gloaming (think that actually means fog but it sounds good…). We took a different route to previous weeks, not that this made any difference to me as I never know where we are or where we are going but just follow. In the end we did around 7 miles at a speedier pace than last week. Battling the wind across the cliff tops and struggling up hills it was a good run though I could have done with it ending a mile sooner as I was properly knackered and it was getting dark and visibility poor. It was a good run though and was pleased to have got out.

On Thursday it was cats all day and then a 5k track race in the evening. Never having done such a thing before I was apprehensive. Though knowing my love of track I thought it might be OK as track pacing is something that I am better at than road, trail etc. This proved to be the case! The 10k and 5k option started off simultaneously but with the 5kers setting off from the 200 metre start. There was one other girl there who was hoping for 21 ish minutes so I stuck with her for the first two laps to stop myself going off like a rocket in the traditional unhelpful style. This worked well as I felt fine so passed her after the two laps and tried to push on slightly whilst remaining cautious and trying to remain consistent on each lap. I had brilliant support from Lydia who had very kindly offered to lap count for me who shouted out my times (no use really as I had no idea what I should be running) and encouragement from the 200 metre start point. Cathy, Fiona and John were also lap counting on the finish line so there was good support throughout. We even got a bell on the last lap!

Ready for the stat bit?

OK. Lap times as follows: 1.37, 1.40, 1.38, 1.40, 1.40, 1.38, 1.42, 1.39, 1.39, 1.33, 39s (last 200) = 20.21(ish). Amazingly consistent!!!!! Forcing myself to start sensibly with the 21 minute girl definitely helped. Very pleased with this run. A 15 second pb. I had a small wobble where I felt I should have been faster as all my other 5k times are from Hove Park which is hilly so this should have been faster but managed to dismiss the “should haves” after only a short contemplation. Taking the positives it was a consistently run race, I felt fine, I (as usual) felt I could have pushed for home earlier so therefore had more to give, and generally felt I had run well for once). As darkness drew in and the floodlights failed to light the 5kers watched the lone figure of Richard speeding round and round for the 10k. He was the only one to complete the longer distance and romped home in an impressive 32.05 in the almost complete darkness.

All in all this was an excellent introduction to long distance track racing and I feel more encouraged about my ability. I do love track but need to work on not becoming so ridiculously anxious in track races. Yesterday’s race was a very low key affair arranged by Tom and a small group of Brighton & Hove ACers as a birthday treat to themselves which I had the honour of being invited to. Now I have finally dared to go and enjoyed it it will be a permanent fixture in my racing diary!


Posted 31/08/2012 by Isobel Muir in Blog, Running

Running, swinging (kettlebells), stretching   Leave a comment

As Monday was a bank holiday there was no track session so instead a few of the Arena crew sped off to Chiddingly to do the King’s Head Canter 5k. Well actually to be precise a 4980 metre point to point race starting in Chiddingly and finishing in East Hoathly at the King’s Head pub (hence the name). Continuing my quest to not get stuck in race time negativity I was watchless. I found myself keeping with Chris for the first 3k relatively easily but then alas my foolish thinking pattern crept back in and I thought “but I can’t keep up with Chris for this long” and chose to ignore the evidence and thus dropped back a bit. Adding to this was the fact I had caught up with Charlie and again I thought “I can’t possibly overtake her as she’s much better than me”. Damn me!!!!!!!! After a good non-self-judgemental start I ruined it. Grrrr. However the end seemed quick to appear and I rolled home in 22.16 which was OK considering I didn’t really push myself at all. I was only there for the free pint afterwards! To this end I ran strainght through the finish to the bar as past years experience has taught me you have to get in early before the mammoth queue appears. Cider in hand I felt pleased that I didn’t totally torment myself (other than the above) and wasn’t really bothered about my run (perhaps the cider helped). We stopped off at Middle Farm on the way home where I bought some cheese and chilli oatcakes and strawberry cider. Lunch sorted!

On Tuesday it was back to normal. Felt completely fine as Monday’s run was not strenuous and I was not completely dazed and out of it on Henfield and track like I was last week. Much stretching and core work ensued. I am yet to develop abs of steel. Or at least visible abs of steel. Perhaps they are concealed? Yes, that must be it… ahem… Back to the gym in the evening for kettlebells. This week Matt threw in a couple of new exercises that I struggled with. It seems that my shoulders are both rather immobile yet simultaneously unstable. Not sure how this is possible but trying to do a sideways lean with one arm straight in the air proved tricky as I felt I was likely to drop the kettlebell on my face at any moment as it swung around wobbilily. Hmmm… improvement to be made in this area! However overall I was pleased I was back to normal weight-wise after last week’s totally tranquilised, energy depleted state. Today my back feels a bit achy but I think I actually did that opening a tin of tuna!

Today was MY LAST HOT YOGA CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank God for that. Strangely I was not as elated as I expected. please don’t tell me I’m going to miss it even though I hate it more than life itself? I think it is just because I forgot my towel (div) so now owe them £1. Until I give it to them I won’t feel I’ve really finished. I will post it through the door next Tuesday as I’m passing on the way to core and stretch. The actual class still frustrated me as much as usual as I am still unable to do almost all of it though I did discover the core and strength and balance stuff I was OK at just not the bendy stretchy stuff. Look – I am learning to see the positives. Good. There is hope for me yet!

Posted 29/08/2012 by Isobel Muir in Blog, Kettlebells, Running, Yoga

From fat to not quite as fat…   Leave a comment




Top: Fat as heck November 2007 at the first Brighton and Hove parkrun.

Bottom: Not quite as fat (but definitely completely knackered post Henfield Half) August 2012.

Posted 27/08/2012 by Isobel Muir in Uncategorized

Tipping the 1000 person mark! And a bit of exercise…   Leave a comment

One thousand and twenty two people have read my blog so far! OK so I’m not exactly taking the world by storm but at least some people are reading this…

Always forget how I finish previous posts so am guessing I got as far as hot yoga on Wednesday morning. Therefore I shall start with Wednesday evening’s downs run. We now have two distinct groups. The speedies and the more sociable slower group. The slower group is perfect for me. I am not great at hills and after the hard work of Monday’s track session and circuits on a Tuesday evening it is good for me just to take it easy and enjoy getting around seven hilly off road miles under my belt. This week Charlton joined us (he is one of the speedier speedies) for the full run as he was due an easy run. We chatted all the way round which was good for me as it distracted me from the running and good for him to do a truly easy run (my Wednesday pace is probably the slowest he has ever run). The only slight downside of the run was when we nearly all got ploughed to death by a man zooming down hill in a tractor with a deadly metal contraption on the front. He didn’t slow down even slightly and we had to take immediate and panic stricken evasive action into the grassy/spiny verges to avoid being speared on the front and carried away into a farm yard. Luckily we all survived (just).

On Thursday we reconvened at the significantly less hazardous Hove Park for the usual intervals session. All the usual components were there. Long fast bits, shorter faster bits, grass hills. Many people questioned my counting skills when I was still completing my 15 grass hills when they had all finished. Don’t think I miscounted. Obviously I’m just really slow! Dashed home afterwards to watch Diamond League happy that I had 3 days full rest planned. Volunteered at a sodden parkrun on Saturday morning. Did my usual rest day trick of eating and eating and eating. Not good.

Today I was planning on my final rest day and a spot of Diamond League watching but found myself participating in a 16 mile off road cycle on the downs… Oops. Lots of hills, cowpats and windiness but no punctures this time. I had to use my cow bravery to get us through a group of them as my cycling partner is a bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to cows. I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to everything else though so it was the least I could do to get us through without incident. It was enjoyable and much easier as I hadn’t done anything since Thursday. Might have tired me out a bit for tomorrow’s King’s Head Canter 5k but it’s more of a social occasion and for some reason I’ve been truly awful there the last few years so I’m not really worried about my time. Still trying to exercise for pleasure and not worry about times. Watchless tomorrow.

See you all on Wednesday!


Posted 26/08/2012 by Isobel Muir in Blog, Cycling, Running

Running hard, feeling strange   Leave a comment

Having got Henfield out of the way on Sunday I was looking forward to track on Monday. Even more so when it looked like it really was going to be a nice day for it (unlike last week where it looked nice until an hour before when the heavens opened and it became more of a paddling session). It was! Warm and sunny. Perfect for a fast session. Bob obliged!

3 x 500 @ 1.45, 1.50, 1.52

5 x 300 @ 1.01, 1.00, 59s, 1.01, 1.00

5 x 200 @ 37s (last one 34s)

All these were run at around 80 – 90% effort to ensure I kept the consistency and speed throughout the reps. Success! The rest was 100m walk, except for the 200s where it was 100 walk, 100 jog into rolling starts. I ran in my own group of one so I could take a long enough recovery to keep each of my reps fast and consistent. This worked well. By the end it was just me with 3 reps left to run and everyone else having finished and warmed down. I managed not to get too paranoid as I knew I was doing the session in the best way for me. Unfortunately we had a committee meeting afterwards. The meeting in itself is fine but I had worked so hard I was totally spaced out and felt sick and couldn’t write. (I can never write after running for some reason. My hand can’t hold a pen properly – odd.) Shame the meeting was mainly about the Arena 10k I organise!

On Tuesday I felt very strange. Really very tired indeed. In fact I can’t remember ever having felt more tired. I dragged myself out to Core & Stretch but was so dazed and weak I could hardly do anything. Just wanted to lie down on my mat and sleep. Naturally I didn’t learn from this and sensibly take an evening off kettlebells. This was stupid as I couldn’t lift my normal weights and had to downgrade massively to weights I’m not sure I ever used even when I first started. I had no control over my form and even the lightest weights were almost beyond me. If the snatch is beyond you you can use the clean version suggested Matt as he looked at me with dismay as I failed to clean the 12kg. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that doing a half marathon out of the blue followed by a hardcore track session means I have nothing left for Tuesday but I’m still not sure that’s the whole story as I’ve worked hard before and never felt so utterly drained as I did yesterday. Thankfully today I felt a tiny bit more awake though at yoga I was still weak but then I always am so not sure it was so apparent. Usual downs run this evening could be interesting. Will take it very very easy (which I do normally anyway) and hopefully I’ll be able to run tomorrow’s interval session properly then 3 days rest before King’s Head Canter 5k on Monday.

Not much to report… but that’s a good thing!   Leave a comment

As part of my new drive to stop maddening myself with running-related anxiety and disappointment I decided to ditch Wednesday’s open track meeting at Withdean and go out on the downs with the group as usual. This was a good plan. Originally I thought I wouldn’t do track as the weather was cold, wet and windy and I feel track should only be done in the warmth to avoid wind-related anger, but it turned into a beautiful sunny day an hour or so before. Luckily I had already booked my lift to the downs so went there anyway. Regardless of the suddenly clement conditions I am glad I didn’t do the track as I know I would have only been disappointed with whatever event I did. Bob (Arena coach) agreed and said I should only get back to track racing when I can run consistently, something I still struggle a lot with. I did feel somewhat anxious that my plan had to be changed but nowhere near as much as I feared and nowhere near as angry and disappointed as I would have done if I had gone to track. Anyway, the downs run was good. Nice and sociable. Not many there for some reason but a nice 5 miler to round off the day. Still allowing the obvious “if I don’t run in the morning it’s easier to run in the evening” to sink in. Good. Am (so far) doing quite well laying off myself and just running.

On Thursday I went to hot yoga in the morning and was extremely relieved to confirm that I only have 2 MORE CLASSES TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YIPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Was thinking of cramming them both into this week to get them out of the way but think I’ll have to save my excitement and finish next week. Massive afternoon individual extremely quiet book reading RAVE next Thursday! Whoop whoop! In the evening I cycled over to HovePark for the usual interval session. Up and down and round and round we went in the traditional fashion. Still working hard to ensure fewer sessions I do do are good quality. Exceeeeellent (in a Mr Burns style).

On Saturday I went to help at parkrun as not running for a time is part of the new pressure-free (or less at least) me. It was really hot anyway so a good time to marshall. Also I knew I was doing Henfield half today so double sensibleness (people will no longer recognise me I’ve become so sensible). As my long races seem to coincide with freak weather conditions (Eastbourne gale force hail storms, first Bewl heatwave, second Bewl major rain and freezingness) I was unsurprised to find the weather forecast for 32 degree heat and blistering sunshine. Luckily this turned out not to be the case in Henfield. Although it was still hot there was cloud cover and even a few miniature thunderstorms with a few drops of rain and a stiff breeze in parts to help cool us down. As I knew this was my last long distance run for the foreseeable future I went watchless. The course is an off-road course which is quite flat but hard work due to the long grasses and rutted underfoot conditions. Thankfully I had a strange period between 4 and 6 miles where it seemed to disappear. I was surprised to see the 7 mile marker having been looking out for the 5! Made it to the finish in 1 hour 54 minutes which is acceptable as most people’s times were down by around 10 minutes from their road times and I’ve run my last (and only) two road halves in around 1.48. So glad that I’ve done it and I have no plans for anything long EVER AGAIN (I know this will not be the case but must at least pretend it is so for a little while).

I knew that even with little to report this post would end up really long!

Me looking dead at the end of Henfield!

Posted 19/08/2012 by Isobel Muir in Blog, parkrun, Running, Yoga

A good start to the week and the new me   Leave a comment


Rightio. Another week has started. Which means another Monday at the track. This week I was looking forward to some short fast stuff as the introduction to my new training regime. The day was hot and humid, perfect for some speedy reps! Alas, around an hour before the session was due to start it started absolutely chucking in down! Of course this didn’t stop the core of hardy souls descending on the track as usual. After a mile warm up I was thoroughly soaked and it was raining so hard it was battering straight through my sparse eyelashes and causing major stinging and blindness. Arg! However when the session proper started it had stopped raining so after another quick warm up lap consisting of the traditional high knees, heel flicks etc we got stuck in. Bob asked us to get into pairs as we would be doing 10x500m as a parlauf. For those who don’t know what this is it is basically a continuous relay. So Kim (my partner) set off on her first 500 metres while I walked on 100m to meet her as she finished and I started. This went on for the whole session. I was very pleased to discover I was doing my reps in around 1.48 (1.45 for my fastest, 1.52 the slowest) which is amazingly consistent for me. Not particularly speedy, but consistency is the key. Two things were responsible for this I think: 1.) I had not done anything since Thursday so was well rested for once. 2.) The recovery was quite long, around 2 minutes I’d guess and was walking/standing rather than jogging (which I can’t count as recovery as I’m still running!). Also because I was fired with enthusiasm for my new style of training (ditching the unenjoyable long stuff). Now I will work hard in the sessions I do do and reap my rewards in the days I do nothing (Friday and Sunday at least). Once I get the Henfield Half out of the way this Sunday I don’t intend to do anything over about 7 miles in training and 10k in racing. As I mentioned in my last post I know I am fit enough to race well it is just a matter of getting my mind to cooperate so I must concentrate on this rather than exhausting myself doing too much in the foolish belief that it will help my racing especially as I KNOW it is my mind not body that is at fault.

On Tuesday I rolled on over to Core & Stretch in the morning in bright sunshine. Naturally, as it’s an indoor class! (I did hang my sodden trainers on the washing line before I left though.) I felt that my down dog was not quite as awful as usual so perhaps I am actually become a teensy bit more flexible? I am NOT attributing this to hot yoga though as I MUST NOT do any more classes once my 20 have run out. The angriness outweighs any benefits. Core & Stretch will be enough.

In the evening I was back at the gym for Kettlebell Circuits. As I had worked hard on Monday I did find it a little harder than last week and my shoulders gave out pretty early but this was due in part to the morning’s class and because I was back swinging 9kgs in each hand. I did try and use the 12 for the clean and press but failed dismally so back to the 9 it was! Charlton will be pleased to know we finished on snatch and I succeeded with with the 9kg. Over all I felt alright with my performance although I wasn’t completely dead like the week before but not sure that’s a bad thing.

I think I may be gaining a bit of self confidence as I actually dared to ding someone who was strolling along the cycle path. In the past I would merely throw them an evil look and mutter to myself as I passed. Progress!

Posted 15/08/2012 by Isobel Muir in Blog, Circuit Training, Kettlebells, Running

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