Archive for November 2012

Testing testing 1, 2, FAIL!   Leave a comment

After a day of rest on Sunday (God would be pleased) I set off for track on Monday as usual. As suspected we were doing the same as the past 3 or so weeks but this time based on 800s. I decided that this week I was going to trust my pacing instincts as I must stop always relying on others. Big mistake! I did the first tempo 800 in 3.12, which seemed fine but turned out to be way too fast when we then had to take 10 seconds off the next one and 5 seconds off the one after. I failed to take into account that taking 10 seconds of in 800m is much harder than taking it off during a mile. Anyway the basic conclusion is I ruined the whole session as each rep was slower than the one before. Unfortunately the rest of the group went with me so their session was ruined too. Ooops! Never mind. It was good that I had the confidence to try pacing myself, and wasn’t that upset that I totally failed, and now I know I still have much work to do! I shall skulk back into my position behind Duncan next week as he knows what he is doing.

On Tuesday I did the usual Core & Stretch class in the morning followed by kettlebells in the evening. Nothing out of the ordinary to report. It was hard as always and my legs were very tired after Plumpton so I just got through it the best I could.

However in the morning I had booked a body composition analysis. Exciting! I last had one done in January 2008 when I had only just started running and was mainly just doing gym work so I was really interested to know how my body has changed after 5 years of regular running and the more recent addition of gym classes, better eating, not really drinking alcohol, weight loss and coming off antidepressants.

The 2008 analysis (age 30) 

  • 169cm/5’6” tall – surprised as I thought I was 5’5” at most
  • 58.3kg/9st2lbs weight
  • 17.7% body fat
  • 10.3kg body fat weight
  • 60.2% water
  • BMI 20.4

Rachel from Body Optimum in Brighton came round with her electrodes (Body Impedance Analysis kit), scales and computer and hooked me up.

5 years later…

Same height (I assume)

  • 53.5kg/8st4lbs weight
  • 14.0% body fat
  • 7.5kg body fat weight
  • 62.0% water
  • BMI 18.7

She also took my blood pressure which was 114/76 which is fine. Though the first reading said I was officially dead! 

Full results Isobel Muir Report BIA Nov 2012 and Isobel Muir BIA Nov 2012 So what can we deduce from this? Doing lots of running (and other types of exercise) is good for you. Rachel did say I could do with eating more foods containing good fats such as mackerel, nut and seeds so I have stocked up.

Now I must use this quantifiable evidence of my state of fitness, along with the thing I did at the Brighton Marathon Expo that said I had excellent oxygen usage efficiency (don’t think that’s actually what it’s called…), to help me gain some confidence and belief in my abilities and become a good runner in 2013 as I segue beautifully into the v35 category. I shall try and forget the results of my asthma test that told me I have the lungs of the average 50 year old as having crap lungs hasn’t stopped many an athlete.

2013 will be the start of me becoming a PROPER RUNNER (whatever that means)!

Me being silly (as usual). Raaaa!

Plumpton XC in pictures   Leave a comment

I love the way this photo captures me looking like I’m going the wrong way!

Wearing the angry hat. Can you see why?


Evie showcasing some of the more grassy but still squelchy areas.


(Not all of the) men’s team looking mud-splattered post-race.

Photos nicked from Dave from FaceBook. Thanks!







Plumpton XC – xcllent   1 comment

Again only one thing to report this time as a consequence of my new found resting ability:

Plumpton cross country. This race has always been my least favourite run of the year as the terrain is awful. The race is held in the grounds of Plumpton Agricultural College and is run through fields used by various animals including sheep and cows which means it is always a massive churned up mudfest. In this instance it was also utterly sodden after a week of almost constant rain. Some of the fields were not muddy but instead long grassy tussocks interspersed with pools of water of differing depths (no way of telling the depth until you sink). There was also a longish stretch of concrete that did me no favours as I was wearing 12mm spikes. In fact I arrived with old blunt 9s in my shoes but discovered I had a bag of 12s in my bag and Bob was on hand to be manly and get the old ones out (I was too feeble) so I was able to make myself slightly more race ready. As the course is always going to be totally not my style I wasn’t at all nervous as the plan was just to get round without falling over or losing my shoes. The course had been changed slightly so we were setting out slightly into the unknown though of course it was going to be much the same, just incorporating a different field.

After the gun made me jump I set off. The course was as draining and muddy and wet and tussocky as expected and also included the concrete clacky path of doom which forced the base of my spikes into the soles of my feet but I started off pretty well. I was wearing my angry hat (child size Adidas cap) to keep the rain off but also to disguise my rage-filled countenance. Bob sounded slightly surprised as he called out good running as I passed by around 2k. I felt quite strong until around 3k where I faded slightly. As the course had changed I was unsure of where the finish  was which unfortunately causes me to slow down due to my fear that I will somehow not make it to the end even though all experience shows I will (Bewl 15, various halves etc). However I still felt that I was running a much better race here than I ever have before. I managed to jar the same leg twice by falling down the same hole twice – skillz. I tried my traditional fast finish but the terrain was not conducive so I put in the effort but mainly just dug myself further into the mulch. I have no idea of my time but know it will be a pb, mainly because all my other runs here have been truly AWFUL. Can’t really claim it as the course was different but I am going to anyway as I know I actually ran it as well as I could have which is what counts.

I hung around to watch the men for two laps but by then I was frozen so admitted defeat, ate two of Lydia’s delicious cakes, then folded my sodden form into the car and came home.

Unfortunately I have no photos of the mud encrusted team as it was too wet and windy to attempt to use a camera but I’m sure you can imagine!

Getting into the sensible swing   Leave a comment

Naturally I went to track on Monday even having raced on Sunday. Yes, I am getting much more sensible in my training but it will never extend to missing track! This week we did the same sort of session as the last two weeks but this time based on 1k reps. So the first rep was at tempo speed, followed by 1k at 10 seconds quicker, tempo, -10, -10, tempo, fast as possible. We set off on the tempo rep and came home comfortably in 4.10. Extra useful as even I can take 10 seconds off that! We picked up the pace on the second rep and completed it in 3.56, so a little bit fast, but still comfortable. Back to tempo and another 4.10, perfectly paced by Chris (as always). The next two faster reps were run in 3.56 and 3.54 so again good consistency, paced by Duncan this time. Chris led us once more to a spot-on 4.10 and then it was time to see how fast we could do the final one. I set off with the group but then became annoyed with myself as I always run at the speed of the others so I stopped after about 500 metres and then started again a bit later on my own to see how I would do when left to pace myself. I set out at a pace I felt I could sustain but discovered in the last 500 or so that I must have been going too slowly as I managed to pick it up quite considerably until I was going almost full out by the end. Nothing new there as that is what I always do but at least I started picking it up earlier this time and the pace I started at was quicker too. Heading in the right direction! I completed the rep in 3.44 (which isn’t particularly fast and I know I can do better once I start trusting myself and believing that I can run fast without crashing and burning) which was acceptable after already having run 6k. I shall keep pushing myself at track until I accept that I can run fast and thus start out at the correct pace rather than always worrying I won’t make it to the end of the session and keeping too much in reserve.

On Tuesday I was still not resting as I feel I must always go to gym classes as I have paid a year’s membership in advance and need to get my money’s worth! I wasn’t worried though as I had planned to have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off (though I did briefly think of going to spin this morning but quickly dispensed with that idea, helped by the ridiculously windy weather and the fact my road bike had a puncture and I didn’t have time to fix it). So off I set in the morning for Core & Stretch. A nice bit of stretching will be just the ticket after Sunday I thought idly as I battled the wind on the seafront. When I reached the gym I was informed Toby was taking the class. This left me with a sense of foreboding, this is the man who killed us all with his spookathon step class! The sense of imminent doom intensified when he started the class with the immortal words “this will be a nice and easy class”. We started with a whole array of different ab exercises before moving on to a lot of down dog, planking and balancing. My poor tired limbs were unamused and my (fl)abs wept. I got through it of course but it was in no way relaxing or easy.

In the evening I set off again, this time on my mountain bike due to the aforementioned puncture, the wind seemed even worse and the unsuitableness of the mountain bike made it even harder but I finally arrived to be killed off by kettlebells. I still went for the usual weights and added more blisters and calluses to my poor ravaged hands. With all the usual squats etc my legs were pretty destroyed but I did the best I could. Matt even said after the class that I smashed it even after Sunday so I didn’t feel quite as annoyed with my tiredness.

I think (fingers crossed) that I am finally become more sensible. I don’t feel anxious about missing this evening’s run or tomorrow’s. Nor am I that worried that I probably won’t be doing Wednesday or Thursday next week and didn’t go last week either. The thought of missing 3 weeks in a row would have filled me with dread not long ago. Let’s hope this new mindset continues!

Brighton 10k   3 comments

Crumbs, only one thing to report today. Brighton 10k on rested legs. Perfect weather. Plan in place. No excuses!  


As I knew the weather was going to be good and this was my final chance of a 10k pb this year (after my two previous attempts were ruined by gale force winds) I decided to formulate a proper plan. So I worked out that to do 43 minutes, which would be a pb by 14 seconds, I needed to run each kilometre in 4.18 (I calculated this using only my brain – take that C grade GCSE Maths!) I also wrote a list of things to remember when running like relaxing, concentrating and sticking to my own plan and ignoring everyone else. I stuck my pace times (handwritten on a bit of paper) to my watch in an old skool stylee as I can’t get on with Garmins and wrote “concentrate” and “relax” on my hand in permanent marker, donned my new running tights (untested) and far too many layers and off I set on my bike in the brilliant sunshine.

Once I arrived at the start I realised I was wearing far too much so removed the one layer that I could without being arrested and did a little (well two miles actually so a lot for me) warm up. As I had for once managed not to arrive stupidly early it was then time to get into the crush in the start funnel. That is the problem with this race and why I don’t always do it, too crowded and impossible to get a good start. Although I was quite near the front it still took 32 seconds to cross the start line and this was at walking pace. I stupidly started my watch neither on go nor when I crossed the line thus having an unknown amount of time on my watch. What a div! This meant I had no idea if I was sticking to my k plan. All that working out of my feeble mind for  nothing! Utter utter ****. So angry at myself. Must.. not…swear… Anyway I ploughed onwards trying to suppress rage that there were people all over the place. Why will I not learn? I reached halfway in 21.57 by the official clock which meant I was outside the 21.30 I needed for a pb but of course this was the gun time and as I had the unknown extra quantity on my watch I actually had no idea if I was on pace but guessed I was just about OK if I kept it up. Thankfully at this point Dave appeared and basically forced me onwards (not in a mean way you understand). He kept being encouraging and dropping back to make sure I continued when I started to ease off (what always happens around this time). I realised there was no point getting this far on pb pace and losing it all in the last few kilometres so I really tried to keep pushing and Dave kept with me which forced me ever onward. He reminded me of all the stuff I had forgotten I’d written on my list about how I run this stretch of prom every Wednesday so could do it. As the pier hove into view I really tried to speed up (though I’m not sure this was in anyway noticeable externally) and as the finish arch inched closer I kicked into faster gear (again probably imperceptible to the naked eye). Must have started this final kick a bit earlier than usual as when I crossed the line I almost hurled. Thankfully I didn’t but at least I knew I had worked my hardest (for once).

Angry and dying, but on for a pb, around 9k (Dave in the Vegan Runners vest)











As I had left my phone at home I could not see my official time which is texted as you finish, but looking at my watch and basically guessing and hoping I had my fingers crossed for the elusive sub 43, aka 42.59. For some reason I had a mini strop in the finish funnel when I couldn’t get my watch to stop. I thought running was supposed to calm one down? Anyway when I finally arrived home much later I discovered I had run a chip time pb of 42.55. Four whole seconds under the holy grail of 42.59! 19 seconds off my previous pb of 43.14 from Chichester 2010. Dave calculated my (rough) splits and they were pretty consistent at 4.17 – 4.24 per k, mainly due to him pacing me so I couldn’t drop off. My last k would have dragged my average up as it was probably around 4 minutes.

I really felt that I couldn’t have run any faster which was good as usually I know I have slacked off at various points (thanks Dave for not allowing me to this time), but also bad as if that was all out effort then my dream of sub 40 seems an impossibility. Must banish negativity! It was a sodding pb you goit!

OK. That’s plenty of ramble for today. See y’all on Wednesday.

Sensibleness – long may it continue   5 comments

Morning (or afternoon, or evening, depending on when you are reading this). Once again it is time to recall what I did at track on Monday. After last weeks accidentally too easy session I feared that this one would be super hard to compensate. In fact the session was very similar to last week. 5 x 1500, first one tempo, fourth one tempo, middle two fast and fifth one superfast. Our first one was 6.19, followed by a 6.03 and a 5.59, back to 6.17. The fast one at the end went a bit wrong insofar as I only ran 5.57 which wasn’t very good. I am slightly blaming my watch as the display was the wrong way round so the lap split was in the middle and my actual time at the bottom in too-small font to read. Though of course I must have changed the display to this way round at some stage by mistake. I have just changed it back! Anyway, overall I suppose it was good session as basically 5 x 6.30ish minute miles which I wouldn’t have thought I could actually do if I thought about it beforehand.

Shut up seagulls!

Sorry, but they are really annoying. Shhhh!

On Tuesday I set off for Core & Stretch with the knowledge that this and Kettlebells in the evening would be my last exercise until Sunday (more of that later). This didn’t make the class any easier but I persevered. I really felt how tired my hip flexors, thighs and buttocks are. The worst thing seems to be doing hip raises. Anyway I got through it. In the evening I returned for kettlebells. Matt didn’t throw in anything too complicated for my simple brain to wrestle with so it was just a case of swinging the bells and jumping about alternately for an hour. I am developing some kettlebell calluses on the palms of my hands. Quite painful when swinging the bells. Blistering heck. I then cycled home feeling quite excited about my 4 days off.

I have been thinking about why I do too much and what it is I actually want to achieve. If I’m doing it all to become a better runner and get faster times then I am failing as it is obviously detrimental too be knackered and tired of muscle all the time. If I’m doing it because I am addicted to exercise then I shouldn’t be worrying about my times when I run. I don’t worry about how good or bad I am at kettlebells or stretch or spin (or rather I do but only in comparison with myself, whereas I am constantly comparing myself badly with my fellow runners) so why do this when running?

Below are some things I have been pondering…

  • I do enough to be fit enough to run well without having to do loads of running
  • I don’t HAVE to do exactly  the same thing week in week out. I need to get out of “routine” anxiety. It is fine to tailor each week’s activity to whatever is going on. When I have a race for example it makes sense to do less in the preceding week.
  • In the past I did the Wednesday and Thursday sessions not only because I didn’t do all the gym type stuff but also because there were only a few of us and it was possible that there would only be a couple of people there so it was good to go along to make the group a little bigger. This is not the case now as there is a good group of around 15 who will be there week in week out.
  • No-one cares if I’m not at the same training every week. I need to do what is best for my running. Must stop thinking I know what other people are thinking and that it is negative towards me. I mean really, why would they care about what I’m doing when they’re concentrating on their own running? (This worrying about what others think is the bane of my whole life, not just running.)
  • I always think it is just my mind that is stopping me from performing well in running but how can I know this is true if I don’t try resting more? Of course being less tired must help yet I never try it. “Nothing changes by staying the same” Come on Isobel sort yourself out!

I need to sort out the WHY (seems I do want to become a better runner), then concentrate on the HOW. This week will be a good test. No exercise until Sunday when I shall be running the Brighton 10k on fresh legs and wearing my new snazzy running tights.

Sensible Isobel. What the?   Leave a comment

Lo, we are back to Wednesday evening once again. Not now silly! Taking up from where I left off. Des gave me a lift to the King Alfred so I didn’t already have a mile and a half in my legs when we set off. This may or may not have meant it was easier to keep up with Duncan but I did for the full four miles to the Peace Statue. I think we were running around 6.50 minute miles until the last mile where he picked it up and I managed (just) to stick with him. He then told me we did the last mile in 6.25 which explained why I felt like I was going to die but I kept up so that is good. We then trundled onwards to the pier in a not too shabby 6.55. Alas I then totally conked out. Don’t recall dying that severely for ages, if at all. It was a massive struggle to drag myself the final two miles back to the start. There was a bit of a headwind, nothing major but I just had nothing. It is possible I was still 8.30 or so miling but it felt more like 10 and I have no Garmin so no idea of actual pace. Effort 10. Speed 0. Thankfully I also had a lift home so only did 6 miles over all. I think I would have walked the last 1.5 miles otherwise. Goes to show running 6.25mm is not yet something that can be done without repercussions.

On Thursday I thought I should be OK at Hove Park as I only did 6 miles the day before (instead of the 9 I do if I also run there and back) but as you can guess I didn’t factor in the extra fast miles I don’t usually do so was annoyed to find myself getting a stitch on the second (looooong) rep. I think I had started too fast as I could still see Emily who is much faster than me and Pete ahead. I then got scared by a dog which forced me to stop and gave me a fear stitch and used up all my remaining adrenaline. Poop. From then on I knew it was game over so I sulkily and angrily huffed along for a bit. Thankfully we then did something I’m a little more suited to. Some shorter faster stuff where I felt a little better.

As I was not racing at the weekend I went to my favourite spin class on Friday. It is still the hardest thing ever! Although this one was not quite as deadly as the one containing 22.06 of climbing it did contain quite a lot of backwards climbing whilst standing and sitting and backwards sprinting. Not only can my mind not entertain the possibility of actually being able to cycle backwards but then when I need to turn the resistance up I turn it the wrong way as my legs are going the wrong way. Mindbending! Double mindbending after Tuesday’s kettlebell madness. Perhaps it is a good brain work out? It is certainly the hardest thing my legs have to do. I found myself in the usual predicament of having my resistance too high to start with so when the teacher asks us to increase the resistance I can no longer do it as I have reached the point of pedalling failure. This was also the case when going from standing up backwards pedalling to sitting down. I ground to a halt and had to turn the resistance down a notch just to be able to get going again. Regardless of whether I’m cycling forwards or backwards I find spinning my legs really fast on low resistance really difficult. They just won’t go that fast. Maybe it’s something to do with being unable to relax and just let the pedals carry my feet round? Anyway, the class is one giant pile of hard work. Hurrah! Shame I can’t do it every week though maybe it’s a good thing as I think my legs would fall off if I did it weekly.

The age old question of how to not do too much has arisen again. I have managed not to go out mountain biking today (just) even though it is a glorious day and my friend invited me as I know I am starting to get run down again but I know I will go to track tomorrow, and the gym on Tuesday. I may try and miss either Wednesday or Thursday or both (amazing) to try and not be knackered for Brighton 10k next Sunday but I find it so hard to miss anything as I want to do everything even when I KNOW it is detrimental. If someone could talk some sense into me I would be most grateful. I am improving slightly though don’t seem to be able to remain sensible for more than a day or so at a time.

Tempo trouble and track slacking   Leave a comment

After a quiet week I felt ready to get down to a serious track session on Monday. I was picked up early by Des so I could partake in his hilly 3 mile warm up around the streets of Withdean. It was a bit dark so there was the added excitement of not quite being able to see the ground. We completed the loop in around 19 minutes which tells us it is not actually three full miles but a good warm up nonetheless. I even saw a plugged in electric car! The track warm up concluded we gathered in our usual groups and discovered the session was to be 4 x 1 mile. The first to be run at tempo speed, the next two at 12 seconds quicker and the last at the speed of the first. Mark, Duncan and I set off and finished our first mile in 7 minutes which to me seems perfectly tempo-ish but then doing the next two in 6.47 was much too easy for all of us so by the end we were not in any way tired. Oops! So this begs the question: what is tempo? I have never really understood this. The fact that the session was really easy must mean our tempo run was too slow. Oh well. We did as we were told.

On Tuesday I was for once not utterly broken from Monday so hoped that I could get on with the Tuesday classes with a little more oomph than usual. I’m not sure this was the case as my legs still felt tired and doing the plank is still a no no for my STUPID shoulders (grrrr) but perhaps just because I was less knackered I was able to try harder thus felt it equally hard? Yes, let’s say that’s what happened.

Kettlebells was similar. Hard work. At least I could do everything this week being unbroken from the preceding days. Matt threw in a new single arm press where you had to hold the bell upside down by the handle which I totally failed to manage. How is it possible to grip the handle hard enough to keep the bell from swinging down and bashing ones wrist? He managed it with ease but I did NOT. Couldn’t even do it with the lightest weight. Fail. Obviously my grip strength is useless (I am refraining from making any puerile filth-based references). Otherwise all was going fine until the end where Matt decided it would be good for us all to do something called the Turkish get up. This alas had nothing to do with donning some exotic outfits but was rather a hellishly complicated way of moving from lying to standing whilst wielding a kettlebell at arms length. Even Matt couldn’t make it look easy and I bowed out ungracefully around half way through when I couldn’t get into some of the positions even if I didn’t have a kettlebell in my hand. I am never much good at anything that involves coordination and concentration and this certainly did. I will happily swing a weight or attempt to squat and press one overhead but this was way too complicated for my tiny mind to comprehend. Also it took hours so the class overran!

This week I can go to Friday spin so I have not done anything this morning. Hopefully I can actually run a proper Wednesday evening which I don’t feel I have done for a while. Fingers crossed the weather will stay dry and the wind will not be a maelstrom of death as it has been the last few times I have been.

Sunday, blowy Sunday   Leave a comment

I’m certainly glad I am not running today as it is so very windy wheelie bins are flying up the road pursued by waves of horizontal hail. I have however done the Hoovering which is a very rare occurrence as it fills me with hot rage. May have burnt a few calories at least. Anyhow…

Having rested on Wednesday my calves were slightly less doom-laden. Still pretty stiff and painful but walking was doable after only minimal hobbling. I even managed to have a little go on the foam roller which probably helped. I knew however that the evening’s HovePark session would never be anything more than a recovery jog. I was worried about up-hills but was surprised to find that it was in fact the down-hills that caused the most discomfort. Jarring! The flatter and smoother the surface the easier the running. Shame it was hilly and bumpy Hove park in the dark! Anyway it basically turned out to be a half hour jog up and down and round and round.

I was definitely not in a fit state for spin on Friday especially as I knew I had to do parkrun on Saturday what with it being the 5 year anniversary and me having been there at the very first one all those years ago. So off I set on Saturday not looking forward to the run particularly. I have done it so many times (130 ish) that I can’t drum up any enthusiasm for it any more. Somehow I ended up right on the start line which meant I set out like a speeding lunatic and was unsurprised to discover I had reached the 1k mark in 3.57. Ooops! I knew this was waaaaaaay too fast and it could only be down-hill from then on (metaphorically, there were actually two more up-hills to contend with – sigh). I was overtaken in the same place as always by Chris. No matter what form my run takes she always gets me by the playground on the last lap. However I managed to stay within sight of her and ended up running 20.55 which I was initially annoyed with as all the time markers I passed suggested I was on for a pb but which after consideration wasn’t too bad as only 20 seconds off pb and I did run it in a really bad way. I then thought actually I ran it in the style I used to in the very beginning 5 years ago ie: start too fast, die, finish fast so in fact I will pretend I did it on purpose to relive that very first run. 4 minutes faster than that one too so I suppose I can’t complain too much (though of course I shall).

For some reason my left buttock is totally broken today. Possibly because I have been running in an odd style all week what with the calves so it is probably a compensatory strain. Otherwise I feel like I haven’t done much recently and want to get back into normal (but sensible – ha!) training as of tomorrow. Should even be able to do Friday spin.

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