Archive for the ‘Bouldering’ Category

Insert witty title here   Leave a comment

Welcome. It’s Monday again. In blogland at least. So off I went to track. Once I arrived I heard we were doing the same as last week. Having not been there last week this was unhelpful so I enquired further. 6 x 1000m with 1 minute recoveries. This week it was to be the same but with 45 second recoveries. I hoped I could stick in the 4 minute k group so I joined Mark, Rick … and some others who I can’t remember (sorry people). Mark was nominated as pacer having a watch and some pacing skill. This was a bit mean making him do them all but it’s pointless me doing it. Anyway to cut a long story short he paced us well and all the reps were very close to 4 minutes with the slowest being around 4.07 for the last one. I as quite pleased that I managed to just about keep up. I hear we are doing the same again tomorrow so hopefully I can stick more closely to 4 minutes for each.

On Tuesday I took the opportunity to get a LSR under my belt in a brief window of OK weather. It was still rather windy but I managed to avoid the rain. It was indeed a long slow run. 13 miles.

I had planned to go to the Arena tempo run on Wednesday evening but due to unforeseen pedal-falling-off trauma on the way to work I couldn’t make it. This was slightly annoying but the weather was utterly awful so it wasn’t as much of a disaster as it could have been.

The above did mean that I had three rest days before Goodwood xc on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately this didn’t seem to help. I think I went off too fast then lost the will to live and jogged home like a pathetic sulking goit.

Setting off too fast at Goodwood

Setting off too fast at Goodwood

Loving the xc!

Loving the xc!

Finishing strongly. Anything to get it over with

Finishing strongly. Anything to get it over with.

Thanks to Tom Ulliot for the above photos.

Arenas post race

Arenas post race. Thanks Caroline for the photo.

Today was the turn of the Worthing 10k fun run. I entered this ages ago as I wanted to do a race where even if I wasn’t very good I’d still come relatively near the front. I needed the confidence boost. I had talked Joe into entering too and in fact it was perfect timing for him too as he has had a spell of races not going to plan. After collecting our numbers we went for a warm up to check out the start and finish (the complete opposite of what was on the race map and description). It was really very windy on the outward leg but if it must be windy that is the right way round. I had forgotten that there are always group warm ups at these sort of races. Joe, Andy and I party pooped it which was rather amusing as somehow we were right at the front under the nose of the warm up woman. After this brief torment was over we lined up on the start. The man said those who could run under 41 minutes could start at the front (such was the quality of the field). I started right on the line with Joe as I have been sub 40 (albeit once a loooooong time ago) and knew I would start faster than most anyway. Then it was time! I had set my watch, massively optimistically, to buzz when I strayed from 3.59 – 4.15 minutes per kilometre. After the first k I was already way outside this so I just glanced at my watch from time to time as it was on the average pace screen. As it was infernally windy I was struggling along at around 4.20-25 pace. As I’d started at the front I was able to count my position as ladies flooded past me. Except they didn’t. One girl passed me around 4k. I tried to stick with her but she was too strong into the wind. Once we turned at 5k on a horrible grassy stretch I was able to see there weren’t any ladies close behind so I was pretty confident I could keep second place now the wind was behind me. The lady in front was too far ahead to catch so I just tried not to let the gap grow any bigger. It was utterly boiling on the way back but as there was no wind I was much happier. There was an unmanned water station at around 7k so I hurled a cup over my head. The aim for this race was just to put in 100% effort throughout and I felt I was doing this. Overhearing a spectator saying “that woman is dead” as I passed by 9k was objective proof that I was indeed succeeding. Eyes shut was another indicator. I crossed the line in a rather slow 42.44 but having put in the effort this was irrelevant. I was very pleased. My plan had worked. A confidence building run.

Colecting my ridiculously massive trophy

Colecting my ridiculously massive trophy

The complete haul

The complete haul

Stupidly over-large trophy

Stupidly over-large trophy

In the afternoon I finished off the day with a spot of bouldering with Lydia.

An excellent end to a so-so week. 29 miles in total.


Posted 19/10/2014 by Isobel Muir in Arena 80 AC, Blog, Bouldering, Racing, Running, Track

A better week   Leave a comment

Monday was back to track after a week of due to bank holiday. I cycled over straight form work which meant I was early enough to get a mile warm up in even after stopping to help a man on a Brompton whose chain snapped as he tried to burn me off at the traffic lights. This week’s session was (3x) 1000, 800, 500 with the final 500 of each rep being fast. Rick took out the first set which meant it was well paced with a distinct change in speed at the last-500 point. I was assigned the task of pacing the middle set which meant I went too fast on the first bit, slowed down around 10 metres from the last 500, sped up for 10 metres into the fast 500 then went back to the same speed as the rest of it. Fail. Good to know after 6 or so years I can still not be trusted. Sorry Rick! For the last set Rick said he’d pace the tempo beginning parts then I could go on the fast bits but alas I could not because I was knackered by this stage. Sorry Rick! (Again.) Regardless of my dodgy pacing this was a good session and started me off well with 7 miles in the bag (remember I set a goal to run 30 miles this week in RunKeeper).

On Tuesday I kept up the momentum by getting straight out for a LSR, well more of a MSR really as it was only 10 miles but better than anything I’ve done recently. Although it was rather slow it wasn’t as bad as I feared and a good chunk of the way to 30 miles for the week. In the evening I went bouldering with Lydia. Having not been for ages I was rubbish. We did both manage a one hold yellow on the duck through “sheer bloody-mindedness” as Lydia so succinctly and eloquently put it.

Wednesday was a rest (work) day.

On Thursday I went to the gym before work and managed to do the leg press properly which I was a bit worried about due to actually having done some running in the preceding days. In fact I managed everything which is good and proves that my legs are getting stronger. I can tell they are anyway. No knock kneedness and I can cycle properly and uphill without having to go into the lowest gear. Splendid.

Friday was time for another LSR. This time it just about warranted the title being just under 13 miles. After about 6 I was truly knackered as my heart rate attested to as it informed me I was in the “Sprint” zone even though I was over 9 minute miling. At least I managed it and on my own too which makes it feel infinitely harder. I had the dulcet tones of Netsky to help me onwards though and the stink of the sewage works a few miles from the end to keep my spirits up. There didn’t seem to be any runners out. I suppose summer is over and it’s not quite marathon training season yet which is when they all appear. I finally dragged my weary carcass home pleased that, although really hard, I had managed a decent distance.

Post LSR woe

Post LSR woe

On Saturday I went to Preston Park parkrun as usual. As this week was all about getting some decent mileage in I wasn’t worried about my speed so set my watch to just record my run and set off with Duncan. We stayed together the whole way round and rolled in around 21.30 which was completely fine for my purposes.

Today I went to the gym before work and went up a notch (20lbs) on the leg press so distinct progress is being made. I must keep up the long runs and decent mileage weeks then, along with my newly strong legs, I should be getting back to some acceptably quick times soonish.

Hip raise bar

Hip raise bar

34 miles running this week, one bouldering outing and two gym sessions. Good.

Back on track (25 laps thereof)   Leave a comment

I continued my good work from the previous week by going to the gym on Monday morning before work. In the evening I had decided to do a tempo run on the treadmill as I wanted to work on my endurance. Unfortunately I had to stay later than expected at work which meant that I got to the gym at peak time where you are not supposed to stay on the treadmill for more than 20 minutes. Being a massively anxious, conscientious and law abiding sort I chickened out of doing the hour at 14kmph and aborted at 35 minutes as all the treadmills were all in use. Of course this meant that as soon as I got off so did everyone else so I could have stayed on. Huff. I vowed to do the hour on Tuesday morning instead.

Alas by then I had lost all my treadmill motivation and only managed 30 minutes before I became so bored I had to give up. Tsk. Anyway two days of half an hours tempo running must have done me some good.

On Wednesday I had promised I would do the 10000 metres at Withdean. Aaaarrrgggg!! I knew this would be horrible as it was the Sussex Champs so everyone else would be significantly faster than me. They were. I was lapped by the leader at 1k, the first lady at 2k and Joe at 3k. Oh dear. I must have been lapped by everyone at least twice and by some probably around 10 or 11 times. I only had 3 full laps on my own at the end when everyone else had finished. At least they didn’t turn the floodlights off on me this time! My time of 43.06 was a lot worse than I had hoped for but on the positive side I think I paced it reasonably well especially with the demoralisation of being lapped every five seconds by everybody. Also I’m sure my preceding week of lots of gymming and getting back to a decent mileage must have tired me out.

On Thursday I had planned a long slow run but due to one of the worst days of brain-fail ever I was unable to drag myself out. I did manage to meet Lydia in the evening for bouldering so at least I did a bit of exercise.

Friday was yet another day at work and I couldn’t drag up the enthusiasm to go to the gym beforehand so it became a rest day.

Saturday rolled around again as it is wont to do at this time and this week I had decided to test out Race mode on my watch which meant I could race last week’s Preston Park parkrun. Alas you don’t get two little men racing like on some Garmins but you and your past self are depicted as arrows on a road.

The black arrow is the current me, the grey the past. The distance to the finish line is shown at the top and the distance ahead or behind shown at the bottom.

The black arrow is the current me, the grey the past. The distance to the finish line is shown at the top and the distance ahead or behind shown at the bottom.

Naturally I was worried my past self would beat me then someone pointed out that it was a win win situation as if my past self beat me I would still have won (albeit in the past). Last week’s time was 21.26 so I should easily beat that as I ran two of those (near enough) back to back at track on Wednesday. Through the first 2k I was continuously overtaking then being overtaken by my past self as I went off rather fast last week whilst following Duncan. I knew it was from 3k onwards where I would draw away from myself if I kept the pace up as last week I slowed down horrendously in the latter ks. I felt good and strong this time and knew that I could keep the pace up. The weeks in the gym and resting for a few days paying off I think. I even steamed up the small hill on each lap overtaking people where usually I almost grind to a halt. I am glad I have regained my leg muscles. Must continue the good work in the gym.

A miniature sketch of my current self with nice big leg muscles and T Rex arm stylings.

A miniature sketch of my current self with nice big leg muscles and T Rex arm stylings.

Anyway to cut this rambling story short I took around 150 metres out of myself in the last few ks and stormed home in an acceptable 20.48 (good consistent pacing of approx 4.10 per k). Still way off where I want to be but much better than recently and the main thing is I felt strong of leg and put in the effort all the way round. The speed will come.

Having managed to miss almost all of the European Championships I am currently watching the men’s marathon before setting off for work again.


Actual running   Leave a comment

As I had the day off on Monday I thought I should get on with my attempt to regain some endurance so decided to do a medium length run in the morning before track in the evening. I set my watch to alert me when I strayed from the “fat burn” zone. I do not wish to actually burn any fat but rather this should be the right speed for a long run. “Easy” is a bit too slow for a run of this length (9 miles) I feel. I spent most of the time in the “fat burn” and “endure” zones with a few forays into faster and slower, well, based on heart rate. I don’t know how accurate the HR monitor is but those two zones are fine for this sort of run I think. As the new watch isn’t a Garmin I can no longer link you to my runs but I don’t think that is a great loss!

A nice new strap for my nice new watch

A nice new strap for my nice new watch

In the evening Steve was in charge of track and set us off on 8 x 800. Arg! The dreaded 800s! As I had run in the morning I went in Duncan’s group and tried to stick with Rick as much as I could as I know he has good pacing skills. We completed our 800s consistently in 3.30 which was perfect for me after having run earlier too. A good 15 mile double day to start off my return to having some endurance.

On Tuesday it was time to get back to the gym before work to continue strengthening my legs. I can already feel them getting stronger and have gone up in weight on some of the exercises. I also measured my legs and discovered I’d put on about a cm round each thigh and calf. Good.

After work on Wednesday I tried a run keeping in the “endurance” zone. This meant some seriously mental pacing due to the windiness of the seafront but I completed most of the 5 miles in my target zone. It felt hard but of course that is the point as I have done nothing like this for ages thus have no speed endurance whatsoever.

Another day off on Thursday meant the chance to do a long run. I racked up 13 miles which is the longest run I’ve done for absolutely ages. Helped by having the company of Rob for the main portion of the run. It didn’t feel as hard as I thought it would so I must keep up the long runs as these are a fundamental part of running well and the lack thereof have been massively telling over the past many many months.

In the evening I went bouldering with Lydia. There were some nice new pink and black routes to try. I had a small rage due to my hands being so sweaty chalk melted off within seconds of application leading to continuously sliding off everything. Grrr. Luckily I managed to complete a few routes so it wasn’t a total disaster.

Friday morning was another trip to the gym.

On Saturday I thought I would test whether I had gained any endurance in a few days. I hadn’t. Well not enough to complete a 5k anyway. I think I got to around 2k before I slowed down significantly. Ho hum. Better than the 500 metres I managed last week though. I felt like I kept up the effort though but as I had the watch set to tell me when I strayed from 6.30 – 6.45mm I couldn’t easily see my heart rate, which would have probably told me I wasn’t actually working that hard at all. I’m just getting to grips with all the functions and testing things out as I go so next time I’ll set it to tell me when I stray below the “endurance” zone and see if that helps. Anyway I finished in a not-very-good-but-almost-on-the-cusp-of-acceptabilty 21.26. I have added this as a “race” to my watch so perhaps next week I could race myself instead? So many things to try!

Today there was a large ex-Bertha hurricane in effect so I couldn’t even cycle to work so it was a complete rest day (apart from standing about at work).

37 miles in total for the week. Better.

Running out   Leave a comment

I was supposed to have visited my sister at the weekend but an unexpected lightning induced migraine on Saturday morning put paid to that along with parkrun. I went bouldering on Sunday when I should have been taking part in an off road 10k in The Tarrant Valley. At least it was some form of exercise as I felt like I hadn’t done anything for ages (mainly because I hadn’t).

Having been unable to go away at the weekend it meant that I could change my gym visit to Monday. I explained to Matt what I wanted to achieve (getting my thigh muscles back which have disappeared of late) and what sorts of things I felt like I would actually do for longer than a few weeks and he set me up with the following (from memory so I might have missed something out):


Leg press. Leg Extension.

Things with Weights:

Lunges. Hip Raises. Calf Raises.


Squat Jumps. Single Leg Squats.

Matt made me do plenty of each to make sure I was doing them properly and/or to make me unable to descend the stairs later (who makes the changing rooms at a gym two floors up?)

Although it didn’t occur to me at the time (clever clogs) having done that in the morning probably explained why I was pretty terrible at track in the evening (along with migraine ‘hangover’). The session was (2 x) 1k tempo, 1 min, 1k fast, 1 min, 4 x 300. It was very hot as well but normally I would have at least been able to pull something out of the bag for the 300s but alas it was not to be today.

Feeling suitably buoyed with enthusiasm to redevelop thighs of steel I decided I would go to the gym before work on Tuesday to get stuck in to my new regime. I thought it would be a good idea to leave my favourite machine ‘til last. The leg press. It was not as by the time I had done everything else I was unable to complete even one rep on the specified weight (220lbs) and even when I took it down three notches I still couldn’t budge it so I had to conclude I was a fool (an easy conclusion for me of course) and that saving the best for last doesn’t work in this instance.

As I am still off running I thought I would rest on Wednesday morning as I was going bouldering with my work colleagues in the evening so needed to have a bit of leg left so I didn’t end up floundering atop the duck for the whole night (obviously I was bound to be beached whaling it up there at some stage). It was exceptionally busy. I managed my first mint (on the duck) and did a few others I hadn’t managed before so it was a successful evening over all even though really hot and full (of annoying, thoughtless and downright dangerous unattended children).

On Thursday I made the brilliant decision to go for an easy run at midday in the 28 degree sunshine. I don’t mind doing a bit of easy running for fitness but I have no desire to race or put any effort in. This run was rather too hot though and I can’t say I enjoyed any of it. I’m hoping if I don’t do much running I might suddenly rediscover the desire to do it. It hasn’t happened yet… I chose to run earlier as I was going bouldering with Lydia in the evening as a change from HP Intervals. An annoying hip flexor (can’t blame it after all that gymming and bouldering) meant I couldn’t do a few things but I knew that it was because of that rather than defaulting to my historical mode of it being ‘because I’m rubbish’.

Friday meant another trip to the gym before work and this time I made sure I did the leg press first and managed to do the requisite 3 x 8 reps at the specified weight. I then tried to space the thighy things out a bit by interspersing them with the calf raises, hip raises etc. This worked as I managed to do everything I was supposed to and even got the bar down off the stand this time without assistance (though I couldn’t move the other one down to hold on to whilst single leg squatting but this isn’t so important as I just balanced by holding on to the sides of machines instead).

On Saturday I jogged Preston Park parkrun with Joe (until he sped off to overtake Duncan – they are fighting for first place in the points competition) and Rob which was pleasant. In the afternoon I went bouldering with Lydia and managed a few more mints. As usual I didn’t take in to account the new gym regime and the fact I’d already been bouldering three times so got a bit annoyed that I felt so tired and weak.

Today I have watched two Commonwealth Games marathons and shall be watching the track stuff this afternoon whilst allowing my poor hammered limbs to recover a bit.

A good Weak(est Link)   Leave a comment

Monday Monday, so good to me. Well it was this week as track was 400 paarlaufs which is my all time favourite session. It suits me down to the ground as it is short reps with a relatively long standstill recovery. Love love love. I paired with Rob as we are similar speeds, though at this distance he is probably faster than me, but not significantly, so it would be a good balanced recovery for us both. The session was 3 x 12 minute paarlaufs with 3 minutes recovery between 12 minute efforts. I think Rob and I managed 4 400s apiece on the first set then he did 5 to my 4 on the second as he started so I made sure I started and did 5 to his 4 on the last to make us even. All in all I did indeed love this session.

On Tuesday I decided I was ready to do the 3 x King George VI that I couldn’t do last week due to post vet’s league calves. It was another hot day so there was much sweating to be done. I slowed on each ascent and barely jogged home. I think the trick is to keep doing this until I can hold my pace on each ascent and the homeward leg then add an extra hill rep. This circuit is just under 10 miles all told so a good medium length run as well as the hills.

Wednesday meant the Weakest Link relays in the evening so in the morning I just went out for a short slow 5 miler to get the three King Georges out of my legs. Just a little jaunt out to Shoreham Arm and back. It was sunnier than I envisaged so I ran the whole thing with my left eye shut. Oh for a sunglass monocle!

The evening drew around and it was still a nice day which made a change as often the Weakest Link is shrouded in a freezing sea mist. As last year this year the Arena Crew would be split into teams of mixed ability.

Another excellent Arena turnout

Another excellent Arena turnout

This race is a relay (hence the name) whereby each of the four team members run a loop of 2.5k in traditional relay style but when the last leg runner gets to the finish the rest of his team join him for another lap meaning everyone one runs 5k all together with the last leg runner doing it all at once. The theory is everyone runs the last leg at the pace of the slowest runner as teams’ finishing times are taken from when the last finisher crosses the line. I was drawn to run the second leg after Marc, handing over to Duncan with Anthony (the strongest runner) on the last “double” leg.

Pre race tactic chat with leg one man Marc

Pre race tactic chat with leg one man Marc

Marc led us out with a storming first leg. I careered out after him like a flimsy gazelle heading up and over the hill. The long stretch along the bottom was slightly slowed down by a headwind but in no time I was dragging myself up the zigzag then pelting along the gravel to hand over to Duncan. I felt happy with my leg although in retrospect it was hardly speedy. After a nice rest it was time to join Anthony on the final team leg. As we set off it seemed all the other Arenas did too and alas we were overtaken by Jenny’s team. They ended up being first Arena team home making us second. Anyway that is irrelevant as this is just a fun, sociable event and I thoroughly enjoyed it as always.

Crossing the line - well done Marc for putting everything in

Crossing the line – well done Marc for putting everything in

On Thursday I went straight to Hove Park after work and decided immediately that it was a day for a recovery jog so I spent a pleasant 4.5 miles doing just that (1 mile warm up while Garmin struggled to find satellite).

I had planned to do Preston Park this week having not done it for a while. I felt that I could give it a proper go as my brain was having a rare foray into “race brain”. So off I set. Even my bike decided to go into first gear so I took this as an omen that this would be a good run. Strangely everyone starts really far back from the start line at Preston Park so I started right on it with Emily and Joe as it was emptier there than anywhere else. I had set my watch to beep if my pace slipped above 6.30 minute miling. This meant there was quite a lot of beeping (sorry everyone in my vicinity) but it reminded me to concentrate. I managed to stick with a girl and overtake her near the end so that it would be an Arena 1 – 2 for the ladies as Emily was first. I finished in 20.17 which is my best run since December 2013 when I managed 20.06. Somehow I paced this run pretty well. Next time I must go off faster though as all my best times come from a faster start.

In the afternoon I went bouldering and Lydia said I was ready to advance to the mint routes. My first attempt was unsuccessful as the holds are very finger strength specific and I have none. I did however have no panic attacks and climbed onto the duck with no problems – in terms of the height I mean – obviously I flopped about on the top like a deranged seal in the traditional style.

All in all a good week.

Happy Blog Birthday to me!   Leave a comment

Finally track was actually back at the track after around 4 weeks off or of alternative sessions in Hove Rec. I decided that I should move up a group as I shan’t improve (or re-improve?) otherwise. (Un)fortunately there was no interim group so I was forced to attempt to hang on to the pretty gosh darn speedy group containing Paul and Joe. The session was 10 x 600m, split into two sets of 5. Each 600 was 3 x progressively faster 200 metres with a 100m jog recovery between each 600 and 3 minutes between the two sets of 5. I managed to keep pretty well with the group for the first three reps in each set but my usual lack of speed endurance let me down on the last two where I dropped away though still near enough to (almost) say I was part of the group. Anyway the main thing is I tried hard as told by the fact my eyes were shut for most of the session. For some reason Garmin Connect decided it did not wish to upload this session but on the watch it shows 6.5 miles run and I know that I put in the effort so sod off Garmin Connect if you don’t want to speak to your own watch.

On Tuesday I was able to go to Core & Stretch so I did and I did. It was rather hard because of my sudden return to faster and better running (neither fast nor good). Tired legs and many standing poses. I’m sure it did me good though as always. Pleased my core is still steely even though I can’t now attend the class every week.

In the afternoon I set out on my new MSHR (medium length, slow, hilly run) route of 2 x King George VI (my nearest and longest hill) which after a nice long downhill and a slightly undulating return is just under 9 miles. This is my vain attempt to keep up a bit of hill running after the Minehead trip. As I am only training for 5 and 10ks at the moment I think this will do as a “long” run for now. Once again Garmin decided not to import this run from watch to site but it was 9 miles of not very fast hills.

On Thursday I decided I would try not to do an lsr in the morning to see if it helped my Hove Park session in the evening. It was quite hard actually as it was a nice day but I went to Tesco instead. Duly fresh I set off for Hove Park on a fine sunny evening. Steve was taking the session and it was based on a figure of 8 on the grass containing a flattish tempo section followed by an uphill faster section. We did this for a while before finishing off with a few downhill half laps on the path getting progressively faster. Over all I enjoyed this session and managed to keep up the effort throughout. Garmin deigned to allow this activity onto Garmin Connect so if you wish to view it it is here.

On Saturday I wanted to do another vaguely acceptable parkrun but failed dismally. However in the afternoon I went climbing with Lydia and managed to do some stuff on the duck which I usually fail to do. I even tried to conquer my fear of heights by standing on top of it. Alas I looked like an insane shaking lunatic but I stuck at it until the fear faded slightly.

Conquering the duck (sort of)

Conquering the duck (sort of)

I dashed across the top again for good measure. So infernally sweaty but a massive success as I haven’t been able to do anything but crawl along the top like a mental caterpillar thus far. I even used my face and ear as a climbing aid this time which was interesting and something I must add to my repertoire as it helped me conquer a yellow Lydia and I spent ages contemplating and falling off in various stylish and elegant ways. Face to carpet was one of my most accomplished. I managed to re-conquer the infernal blue and white which is good as they are being changed tomorrow. I am still most rubbish at going round corners and I have great trouble when any splits style stances are required what with being a massively inflexible runner type. Lydia was standing perfectly comfortably in a position that nearly caused my legs to shear off at the groin even though I am taller than her and thus have longer legs. Oh well, perhaps the more I do the more flexible I shall become? Either that or my hamstrings shall actually snap.

I have just been informed by WordPress that I have been writing this blog for a year so Happy Blog Birthday to me!

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