Monday, 30 March 2015

Marathon Training Week 5/ Thunder Chops Strikes Again

Welp, my long run day (better known to myself as "Are-we-there-yet?" Sunday) yesterday was a 50/50 mix of mirth and bitterness.  Woke up in a mood that would have put the shits up Voldemort

Disclaimer: Am not a massive fan of the Harry Potter franchise.  I just needed a villain at short notice, and I assume Voldemort is grumpy because he doesn't really have a nose.  Please don't tell me off if he is one of the cheerier baddies like the Joker.

I decided to be a good little ninja and run to my Run Like a Ninja course, but instead, I punched four miles through weather conditions best described as "fuck no!" Also, very nearly got shat on by three birds that decided to drop their guts from above in oddly impressive synchronicity next to me.  My hamstrings were stiff, I had a face like thunder and my brain felt like it had the consistency of chewed-up pudding.  

After some sage advice from someone who recognised that I was suffering from a severe case of Thunder Chops that a few good miles is much better than loads of horrible, struggly ones, I bravely went home and filled my face with snacks instead of facing the extra eight miles I had left to make up the twelve that my training plan required.  Feeling much more human as a result, and am able to look back at the week I had and notice that pretty much every decision I made was the decision of dipshit.  This is what my week looked like:

Mon     CrossFit. Should have been a rest day.
Tues    Rest day.  Should have been 4 miles, but my legs were screaming profanities at me because of previous night's activities (squats, sprinting etc)
Weds   Rest day
Thurs  3 miles
Fri        4 miles
Sat       More squat-heavy CrossFit, because Monday's error in judgement taught me sweet F.A
Sun      4 bitter, rage-fueled miles followed by Run Like a Ninja, snacks and self pity

Not a pretty week!  On top of merrily flicking the Vs at my training plan, I also ate lots of nutritionally void blocks of food-shaped sugar, and didn't give myself the extra sleep needed for recovery. D'oh.  

Lessons learned:

  • Training plans are for FOLLOWING, not eating biscuits over.
  •  You can have your cake and eat it, but you can do bugger all else afterwards.
  •  For the love of God woman, sleep!!
 I have a lot of epiphanies, but the do get a bit samey sometimes.  Sort it out, brain.

Yesterday evening made up for the daytime anyhow.  Especially after the hour long coma I let myself fall into the moment I set foot back inside my house.  Woke up in bed in my bra and pants with no clue how I'd got myself there.  It was marvelous!  

Went to see the beautiful super brain that is Dylan Moran in the night;  The comedy figure that taught me as a teenager that you can intensely fancy someone based solely on the way that they speak.  

Apart from the fact that I was seated near someone whose body odour reminded me of Quavers and feet (pisses me off that you can ask someone to be quiet in a crowded environment like that, but not to stop attacking your olfactory receptors.  "Please stop smelling like bins, I'm trying to enjoy myself!"),  I had a brilliant night.  The show flew by, and I left the building looking like that Emoji with the tears running down its face.  His climactic joke was his own homage to 50 Shades of Grey in which a man with a cleft palate and a duffel coat is sexually accosted by a mad lady hiding in his bathroom.  Steamy stuff.

I thought that today's list-y thing would tie in nicely with the kind of day I had/the type of comedy I got to watch.  *Clears throat*

10 Little Things that Piss Me Off More Than They Probably Should

1.  People who smell badly for no good (medical or otherwise) reason other than they don't wash.  As a creepy sniffer of things with quite a sensitive, pointy nose, I hate nothing more than having my senses invaded by eggy/Quavery/Dead animal-y smelling individuals.  

2.  People who ask questions and then don't listen to the answer/talk over it.  Hypocritical one, because I'm guilty of this.

3.  5 pence pieces.  They are too small and silly to be respected as currency.

4.  My total inability to read and listen to music at the same time.  It looks so relaxing when they do it on the telly!

5.  Noises  I can't control e.g my keys clanking in my pocket, or my bra doing that horrible, squeaky thing.

6.  Bad grammar/spelling.  But I love these videos!   

Jacksfilms - Your Grammar Sucks

7.  Facebook/Twitter/My iPhone and how I need to be constantly looking at all of the above.

8.   My own innate laziness that I have to do battle with every day to not turn into an unproductive human potato.  Every day I walk a fine line between functioning person out in real world and person shaped pile of mash on sofa. Mmm.  Mash.

9.  The back of other people's heads.  I don't think I've ever had a clear view of an entire gig before.  I know that the vast majority of adult humans can't help by be taller than my 5ft 2 or 3 (pretty sure am shrinking too), but I'm sure I will one day set someone's hair on fire with the intensity of my glare.

10.  Having to travel home from anywhere.  In this day and age, why haven't we invented teleportation yet?

I'll leave you with those heart warming thoughts as I go sit in a rain streaked window and glare into a cup of tea. If I failed to spread good cheer, you can watch the following video by the ture master of all things grump about how you should give your potential a wide berth.  Happy Monday!

Dylan Moran on potential from his brilliant DVD Monster


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Marathon Training Week 4/ I Love Swansea, I Do

Wow, this Sunday came around quickly!  Knackered today, so hoping this post comes out making sense. Just got out of a half hour shower during which I stared into space, drank coffee and ate cheesy oatcakes.  Name a classier bird, I dare you!  

Don't think I helped my alertness levels by getting merrily pissed on a visit to see my family this Friday evening.  I forgot how cheap a night out I am when my running mileage creeps up.  I had half a bottle of wine and one can of cider and I was plastered.  I don't recall what happened in Friday's Gogglebox, but I can tell you that based on my viewing experience through wine goggles, it was conclusively the best episode EVER!  Also, if my relationship with A evolves into anything like that of the posh couple from Sandwich, I will know that I have won at life.  

Have a peek at this week's shuffly shenanigans:

Mon   - Rest
Tues  - 4 miles + CrossFit
Weds - CrossFit (meant to be a rest day, but this one involved hitting the crap out of a big tyre with a sledgehammer.  No ruddy way I was going to miss that one. Je ne regrette rein).
Thurs - 3 miles
Fri      - 1 mile (yeah, I don't know either.  Maybe I copied the training plan down wrong)
Sat     - Rest
Sun  - Run Like a Ninja + 10 miles.

Today's 10 was bloody lovely!  If spring was a furry animal, I'd be squeezing it.  I love that there's a hint of warmth in the air, but that it's not too hot to do anything in it. Everything's better when the sun's out.  All the greenery goes HD, and people are transformed from miserable wastrels to chirpy beer garden dwellers.  Look how pretty today is!

Not the best of photographs, but you get the picture.  Pun intended.
...At least you can't see the shopping trolley on the bank.  Why are there always trollies in rivers?

I took my time today.  Focused on relaxing and just enjoying myself.  When it got a bit tough, I walked for a while, adjusted my form and carried on my merry way.  It was nice.  Only thing that drove me mad was that my good mood kick-started the jukebox in my brain, making Everything is Awesome by Tegan and Sara (that one off of the Lego Movie) play on a loop in my head.  Enjoyable at first, but by mile 8, I wanted to stick twigs in my ears and wiggle them about in hopes of finding the "off" button.  Here's a short taster of what I endured:

Everything is Awesome - Tegan & Sara feat Lonely Island

Fortunately, my good mood gave me warm, fuzzy feelings to concentrate on too.  The first five miles were spent ambling along Swansea's seafront with a dippy smile on my face as I ruminated about how much I love my city.  I proper loves it, I do.  I had plenty of time as I weaved through other joggers and smiling families to compile a list of why living here makes me silly-face happy.  Here is a shortened version of said list:

1. Is it a city?  Is it the countryside? Oooh...

Swansea is one of those rare cities that strikes a nice balance between urban and rural.  If I want to plonk one foot after the other on concrete, I can mosey on over to SA1 and marvel at the shininess of its buildings.  If I want to feel like I'm in the wilderness, all I have to do is pick a nearby mountain to scramble up.  And have you SEEN the seafront?  We've got beaches, bitches!

2.  DOGS!!

I'm not allowed a dog in my rented house/glorified shoebox.  I'm not allowed a cat either, but we'll keep that one between us, faceless Internet.  Shh.  Fortunately, everyone else around here seems to have at least one dog, so there's always a loveable looking mutt within petting distance.  I'd like to think I'm getting alright at this adult-ing business, but in the presence of a dog, my brain short circuits and turns me back into 4 year old "OHMYGODISTHATADOGGYCANITOUCHIT?!" Becky.  I'm getting better at controlling it, though.  I can usually tone it down to an intensely goo-eyed grin at a passing canine. Until I remember the canine is highly likely to have a human owner attached to it, who is judging me for looking at their dog like I want to steal it.  That's because I do want to steal it.  People can be very perceptive sometimes.

3.  Nothing is far away

Swansea's nightlife is the best example of this.  99.9% of its bars are one one street, making it easy to ping-pong your way down a single stretch of road, where there is inevitably a weary taxi driver with his door open, ready to catch you and return you to your house - the place where your bed lives. 

4.  It's byootiful!

Dylan Thomas put it best, calling Swansea an "ugly, lovely city".  As it modernises, Swansea's quickly becoming much, much less of an uggo.  It's the ugly duckling of cities.  Which, now that I'm typing it, I'm realising is kind of a perfect analogy. Doesn't the ugly duckling turn into a swan?  Swan?  Swansea?

Holy crap, I just blew my own mind.

5.  Students!

I don't care what people say about students.  Students make a city awesome.  If my liver and bank balance could still handle 4 consecutive nights' drinking a week, whilst holding down a part time job (granted, much of my time working in Debenhams' restaurant involved me "going to the fridge to get something" to ease my pounding headaches and nausea) and attending lectures (but only the ones that start after midday), I would do it all over again.  Students make a city busier, more creative and more vibrant.  Plus, I'm pretty sure that without them, there wouldn't be half as many coffee shops,and that would be a goddamn travesty.

Hope you're enjoying the sunshine too today.  I have to go now, as I have been promised a lasagne/mexican food hybrid.  Mmm.  Everything truly is awesome.

...Aww, fuck, it's back in my head! Gettitout, gettitout!!!!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Marathon Training, Week....3!

Lots to talk about this week, and ALL about running, so if any of you lovely readers only like my sillier posts, then just warning you now!  Am ver' excited about repeatedly putting one foot in front of the other today.  Ver' excited indeed.

So!  Fellow running bores (or Running Boars - we could start a band with that name!) Where shall I start?  

Here's a quick little overview of the week I've had running-wise:

Mon - 4 miles (inc track session with Run 4 All)
Tues - CrossFit (hurrah!)
Wed - Rest
Thur - 3 miles
Fri    - 3 miles
Sat   - Rest
Sun  - Run Like A Ninja (explanation to follow) + 9 miles walk/running

Busy, busy week!  Despite the fact that my ankle/calf issue flared up with a vengeance on Monday before track, and  that my knee decided to join the pain party on Thursday because I dared to run down a hill, it's been a pretty successful week.  Today was the icing on top of it.

By Run Like A Ninja, I didn't mean I've started donning a balaclava and jumping out of bushes to surprise people. I don't fancy being arrested. It's the name of a 6 week course that's being run by Outcast Swansea's biggest running enthusiast (and fastest man with a beard I've ever met - to hell with wind resistance!), Owen Pillai. 

I jumped at the chance to attend.  It hadn't occurred to me until very recently that, as with all other sports, there has to be a right and a wrong way to run, even though humans are built for the activity.   In retrospect, it's bizarre how most, if not all runners will happily plod right into it without first being taught basic form.  Like what I did.  From just one hour-long session, I learned there are several things that I've been doing wrong:
  • I smack my heels repeatedly on the floor as I go.  I'm surprised my ankles made it this far before crying out for help.  Poor, sad ankles!
  • I slouch.  In a bid to make running easier on myself, I try to "relax".  Turns out my "relaxing" translates into hunching my shoulders and gritting my teeth until it's over.  So relaxing!
  • I swing my arms here, there and everywhere, like a crap Spiderman, flinging away webs of energy with my arms and torso; energy that could be used elsewhere.  Like, I don't helping my legs to run?
Quite an enlightening hour! Fortunately, I also learned a billion and one things that I could do to improve my running.  Which is good, because otherwise it'd just have been an hour of  

"Wow, that's not running! Hahaha, look how silly you are!" 

Also, our coach isn't a Disney Villain whose joy in life is making recreational athletes cry - so the main focus was on what we could do to help us on our way to becoming superstar ninjas instead.

Here's how much learnin' I got done in one hour.  ONE puny hour!
1.  Posture is the most important thing to remember.  Shoulders should be back and down.  Shoulders.  Not knuckles.

2.  Engage your core, otherwise running becomes a weird, energy-losing, floppitty motion.

3.  Lean forwards slightly from the ankles.  Running should feel like a controlled fall.  Think Michael Jackson move, not choreography off of Stomp.

4.  To stop losing energy by swinging your arms around like Phoebe off of Friends, keep them in a relaxed 90 degree angle, and keep your wrists loose by holding them skywards like you're being camp and offering someone two packs of Monster Munch (or other delicious crisp of choice. Mmm.  Monster Munch).

The most important and mind-blowing bit of advice I absorbed like a sponge cake (Mmm. Sponge cake.  I really need a snack) was...Tiny fanfare, please!

There is no such thing as jogging.

Whaaaaat?!  What have I been doing this whole time??  It makes sense, though! There is only walking, or running.  If you're being overtaken by pensioners taking their pooch for walkies (what? This doesn't happen to me all the time.  Shut up! You're slow!), then you really need to rethink what you're doing.  

By running that slowly, all you are doing is making walking really ruddy hard for yourself.  As a passionate "jogger" (because I thought it sounded more recreational and less scary than "runner"), this information meant that, if true, I'd have to rethink entire way I train.  I bimble along slowly so that I can get further, but what's been bugging me lately is that it still feels like a colossal effort when I do even that.  I thought lack of fitness was to blame.

I was struggling with this concept, so I decided that the 9 miler I had scheduled after the course was a good time to test it out.  I ran at the speed that my shiny new running posture comfortably allowed, walking whenever it got a bit too gritty, or when my posture started to collapse.  There was a lot of walking.  A metric fuck-ton of walking.  

I covered that 9 miles at a slightly quicker pace than I'd have done if I jogged the whole damn thing.  What the actual eff?!  I'm not saying it was easy - I did struggle a lot.  At one point, I had to bribe myself with the prospect of buying Fruit Pastilles at mile 7 to keep myself going.  They were delicious, thanks.

Difference was, I was struggling from fatigue, as opposed to actual pain.  It's a nice feeling when your muscles are tired in a totally painless kind of way, which is something I rarely get to experience. Especially recently.  My heels, ankles and calves are crying today, but for once, it's with relief that they didn't get yet another nasty battering.

Starting to think that maybe walking sections of this marathon might not be a shabby idea....

See you next week!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Marathon Training Week 2/Galentines Day!

Happy Galentines Day!  Or the closest actual official day to it.... International Women's Day!  Hurrah!  Before I regale you with further tales of my adventures in marathon training, I will share with you some quotes from famous laydees I admire/love/creep on:

"You do it becase the doing of it is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing."
- Amy Poehler, Yes Please

“So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.” 
 - Tina Fey, Bossypants

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Maya Angelou

“I’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor ‘anti-men’. I’m just ‘Thumbs up for the six billion”  
- Caitlin Moran (How To Be a Woman)

"One time, I accidentally drank an entire bottle of vinegar.   I thought it was terrible wine."
- Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)  

Such wisdom.

...And now to neatly slide down the staircase (on my bottom, of course) from  inspirational women to running - if you have any interest in both, you should read superhero blogger (whose life and running tights I covet) Bangs and a Bun's post about celebrating International Women's Day through movement:

Brill read, and it'll make you want to tear your day a new one.  Guaranteed.

Anyhoo, running!  This is what my week looked like:

  • Mon   4 miles   
  • Tues  Rest 
  • Wed   3 miles 
  • Thur  3 miles 
  • Fri      Rest 
  • Sat     7 miles followed by surreal night out in a teeny, uv-lit karaoke booth (I didn't sing.  However, I did attempt to rap a fraction of Eminem's Guess Who's Back before remembering that my accent is far too posh for me to sound like the credible bad ass gangsta rapper I secretly know I am inside.  Biatch.  etc) 
  • Sun   Pizza.  Lots of pizza

I know. I'm practically Paula Radcliffe already, aren't I?  Last night was the last booze-fueled one (in theory) I'll have on a Saturday in a good, long while now.  The thought of doing double digit Sunday runs on a hang over makes my guts do a backflip.  Would be the stuff of nightmares.  Serious times from next week onwards! 

Didn't attempt to add any CrossFit into the mix this week because I was just too bloody thrilled to be able to run again now that my ankle is back in action, and I'm enjoying the freedom to be able to shuffle around my neighborhood again, regardless of pace.  Been having fun, but, blimey - I forgot how chuffing uncomfortable running is!

Sounds stupid because I've been doing it for a while now, so the notion of my forgetting how it feels just seems daft, but it really did slip my mind how much mental grit you need at your disposal in order to keep on moving.  

After six weeks of wistfully staring at other people bouncing around in their lycra pants, I was only concentrating on the freeing feelings that come with getting a bit out of puff in the great outdoors.  By "great outdoors", I mean that bit of land with some trees and a pond on it near my house.  I forgot that the biggest thing I get out of exercise is the amazing "fuck yeah!!" feeling of getting through the tougher bits.  The horrible, gritty bits that that add a little to your character every time you knuckle down and get the hell through them.

Yesterday, all was fine and dandy until about mile six when my legs took it upon themselves to turn into actual lead.  The dominating thought I was having was 

"God, I'm going so slow, I must be rubbish at running if I'm struggling at this speed." 

Stupid brain.  After a bit of rest and recalibration (and cider.  More than a bit of cider.  Mmm, cider), I recalled that the struggle in any kind of exercise (or life in general, if you want me to get all deep on you) is kind of the point.  Every time you get through a tough patch, just getting through it is its own reward.  It's your opportunity to remind your body who is in charge, and to find strength in knowing that it's simply not in you to give up at the first sign of discomfort.

I can't wait for my mileage to start creeping up in the coming weeks.  Bring on the aches, bring on the tantrums, and bring on the feelings of accomplishment. 

And the medal.  Obviously.

Also, I very nearly drew a kangaroo with my run tracker yesterday.  So close:

Disclaimer:  An Australian relative I know through Facebook informs me that this looks more like a wallaby.  Whether she is just screwing with me remains to be seen.

Hope you're having a cracking weekend, whatever you're doing!  Word to the wise: Discomfort in exercise is a good thing.  Discomfort in eating pizza is not.  Grit and determination in that case leads only to burps and sadness.  I am living proof of this today.  Oof.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ready, Steady, Go! Marathon Training Week 1

This first week's report brought to you by... a hangover and nausea brought on by eating a family sized bag of vegetable crisps in one sitting.  Nausea from crisps only.  Hangover may have something to do with the many, many drinks I had last night to celebrate a friend's engagement.  Ow.  Start as you mean to go on and all that!  I'm sure Mo Farrah starts every serious training regime by getting pissed and trying to explain to a whole room of people why they HAVE to watch Parks and Recreation, because it will change their lives and can I have another sausage roll, please?

So I might have mentioned that I signed up to a marathon.  Once or twice...a minute since I signed up.  

Signed up to what, Becky?

Oh, just a MARATHON!!  On the 14th June, I'm going to be plodding/crawling/prancing 26.2 miles around Liverpool at the Liverpool Rock 'n' Roll marathon.  There's going to be a band at every mile, a festival at the end, and a pretty badass looking medal.  I NEEDS me that medal.  As a compulsive!) of my own every move (current status: pyjama clad, queasy), I obviously need to plaster weekly updates of my training all over the internet.  

I am crossing everything (including my eyes.  Makes typing Difficult.  Haw haw.  Christ, I'm tired) that I can get through all 16 weeks without losing a limb/having to drop out.  Nervous as chuff right now, because I only got the go-ahead to start running - carefully - again on Thursday, following some ankle ligament stuff that stopped me hopping and skipping about my day with my usual vigor for six whole sodding weeks.  It was terrible.  I've nearly run out of episodes of Parks & Recreation to watch.  What am I going to do when Leslie Knope is no longer in my life?  Who will guide me?  My own moral compass? Pfft!

Anyway, what I was going to say is that I'll be over the moon if get to actually do this awesome thing I've been gagging get did for a while now.  My ankle still isn't exactly my best friend.  The playful scamp keeps pretending that everything's alright and I'm better, and then springing surprise aches and pains on me.  I would say it keeps me on my toes, but that would be a lie.  Because I have to sit down when it happens.  Silver lining is that I'm now unbelievably grateful that I can even do a modest shuffle. Even a sort-of jog is better than no running at all, regardless of how well-stocked Netflix currently is.  Netflix should pay me for advertising it in more or less every single blog post.

Netflix Netflix Netflix.  Can I have an account for free now, please?


So, training this week consisted of avoiding the plan I've chosen entirely, and just hoping for the best that my ankle will hold out. Up until Thursday, Rosie the osteopath (get me going to a specialist for my sports injury...that I did whilst being sporty!), who I met through CrossFit (so sporty) had prescribed me a healthy mix of no running and picking things up with my crap foot to build up strength.  The latter has actually been quite fun.  Turns out I've got pretty nimble monkey toes (dextrous as opposed to hairy).  I'll do quite well when the zombies come and well all have to start living in trees.  Also, it is now a personal goal of mine to be able to pick up a towel with my toes and fling it up high enough for it to land on my head.  It's important to have things to aim for in this life.  I'll let you know how I get on.

Couple of sessions in, and I'm finally on the mend.  Rosie (off of Swansea Body Kinetics if you're interested and/or if your limbs need tinkering with like mine do) has actual magical powers, and could tell immediately what was causing my mystery pain just from observing me standing awkwardly in my pants.  She's like Mystic Meg, except instead of a crystal ball, she can tell your future from looking at your weird body parts.  I have one hip higher than the other, which is making one of my arches collapse a bit.  My igor-like wonkiness (I might be exaggerating.  Slightly) aside, she's done a great job in speeding up my recovery, meaning I could manage a slow 3 miles on Friday that was almost free of pain.  Huzzah!

Rather than writing week 1 off as a crap one, because I was only able to complete one run and a couple of CrossFit sessions, I'm thinking more along the lines of  

"Best week ever! I managed to do a whole run!"  Was way more than I was expecting I'd be able to accomplish last week.  Here's to 15 more weeks that I expect to be tough, challenging, and a buggerload of fun!  Liverpool, I'm coming for you!  Very slowly and carefully.  Fuck yeah!!

...Now has anyone seen where I left the paracetamol?  My thoughts are starting to hurt again.

Oh!  Also this happened a week or so ago.  My nan decided that for her 70th birthday, she wanted her first tattoo, and that all the women in our immediate family (her, mum, my two sisters and I) should get the same one.  Not a big deal or anything, but my nana is way cooler than your nana.  So there.