Monthly Archives: November 2015

I am a machine….apparently!

So a morning’s training session with Jon, Mr Commando Active.  My 3rd session with him since I starte up training again in the last month, and I’m sure during the first one he said something along the lines of relatively easy sessions to ease back into it all as I approach Christmas….I’m not sure that today’s session was ‘relatively easy’…it certainly didn’t feel like it had been easy by the end.

My training sessions with Jon always begin quite relaxed, consisting of some limbering up, loosening up exercises (although he does insist on sneaking press-ups into the mix every week!).  Today after warm up I had to do five sets of pull ups interspersed with five sets of overhead weighted squats.  Now that might all sound pretty easy to anyone reading this, but pull ups have never ever in all my years of training come easily to me.  One pull up is normally my limit and then my arms are dead and I can never get the second one.  Well, Jon has a sly way of making me do at least 5.  I balance on a thick elastic band that gives me some sort of purchase, resistance to help me get into the momentum of the pull up.  On the first two I can just about get my head above the bar right up above me, and it takes quite a lot of gritting teeth and puffing to do it a further 3 times.  On sets 4 and 5 I did actually manage to hit 10 reps, but I think that Jon’s goading has something to do with that, especially as he knows how competitive I can be.  The overhead sqats are another matter, holding a 15kg weight I had to squat low holding the weight in front of my chest then push up to standing and raise the weight high up over my head – bleurgh.  15 times in each set…a couple of minutes rest and then back to the pull ups!  This is all meant to be making my upper body as strong as my legs – but my arms have always been weak and it never feels like they will improve – I certainly can never envisage doing a pull up more than once without an elastic band bouncing me up! But to be fair I did once say that about press ups, which I can now do several in a row without collapsing in a heap – I just protest loudly everytime I am made to do them.

That all seemed relatively easy when faced with Jon’s next activity for me.  The club where I train with Jon has in its vast facilities very long thick ropes.  Jon attached one of these at one end to a fairly heavy metal sledge like piece of equipment. I had to sit at the other end and pull the sled towards me, as fast as possible, then immediately push it back down to where I had pulled it from…from that I had to go to the next piece of rope which was looped round a pillar so that was holding both ends, which I had to bounce the ends to make big ripples down the lengths of the rope – sounds easy, well I assure you it isn’t, especially when your arms are beginning to feel tired.  I had to do this with alternate arms for 10 on each arm, and then 20 times with both arms together, with Jon demanding really big ripples when using both arms together.  After this I had to go straight to a table that is about 3ft high, and stand up onto it leading with the right leg for 10, and stepping down with the right leg….and repeat on the left leg for 10. And then breathe….  gasp for breath, gulp down water, mutter something derogatory to Jon about not planning on taking thick heavy ropes with me to the desert, or pulling a sledge in the sand (let alone round the London Marathon!) I had to do this not once, not twice or three times, but five times. However, the 4th & 5th times I had to do back to back without pausing for breath! And, very sneakily, when pushing the now extra weighted sled back to where I had pulled it from I suddenly felt it get tougher to push – this would be because as it was still trailing the long thick rope Jon thought it a good idea to hold onto it and add himself as extra resistance!!!  He’s kind and thoughtfu like that.

All in all it certainly didn’t feel like a relatively “easy” session.  But, I have to say that with the Atacama Crossing once again almost 10 months away, I sort of feel like I’m vaguely back on track or at least heading in the right direction, even if I’m not planning on lugging a sledge across the desert!  What felt good, was when another trainer smiled and said to me “you’re a machine”…I assume in fitness terms this is something akin to a compliment – Jon assures me that it is  🙂

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Running freely…

Having not been for a proper run for over 9 weeks, the first run starts to look like the biggest of hurdles.  Signing up to run the London Marathon looks tougher from where I am sitting than it did when I ran my first marathon in 2004.  Still, I saw my ‘desert’ trainer, Jon, last week for the first time… explaining to him my lack of motivation, my lack of running fitness and my constant feeling of sometimes overwhelming tiredness.  He gave me the best running advice I have ever had.  To not even think about properly training for the marathon (or desert) yet, but to simply start enjoying running again, to ditch the stopwatch/GPS/sportswatch and not worry about how far or how fast I am running as (hopefully) that will all come.

I have to confess that all intentions to then go for a run at the weekend went out the window, partly because I was jetlagged from night shifts, but also because my glutinous maximus muscles (my butt muscles) were really rather stiff from the “light” workout Jon put me through.

So today dawns – and hmmm, it is pouring with rain and wind.  Not really conducive to seducing me out for a run. But, at 2.45pm the rain stopped and I finally put on my sad looking trainers and stepped out.  I ran along Regent’s Canal and through Victoria Park, a minor pause as I lost my bearings in the park.  It is strange, as I haven’t run without my watch for about 10 years.  I’m used to avidly working out how fast I’ve run a mile, working out how long various distances are going to take me, monitoring my heart rate, monitoring my average pace.  It is quite surreal to leave the trappings of time behind and just run to be again, and it is also quite enjoyable, even if i did feel I was rather heavily plodding at one point. 50 minutes later I almost bounced up my steps feeling a bit lighter of heart and breathing easier, if a little stiff around the out of practice joints! Not sure exactly how far I have run… but you know what, who cares, I was out running, freely and that is all that matters…. 26 miles will be nothing! (personal snort of derision!!)

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Marathon motivation… I hope

This time last year I had completed the Nice to Cannes marathon for the fourth time. It was one of the toughest marathons I had ever run. I was tired and training hadn’t gone quite accordingly to plan, although I was fit. I just didn’t have the distance in my legs and after about 11 kilometres the darkening French skies began to dump their heavy rain clouds on the runners for the rest of the race. Despite the pouring rain, my ever faithful and loyal fan club that has followed me around all of my European marathons, was at the finish line in the pouring rain. My darling Daddy, under a massive umbrella, was waiting to give me his big bear hug. My wonderful Mummy was there too, I hasten to add, as she was guarding the car from French parking police, as well as keeping out of the rain. They have always, always been at the end of all my UK and European based races. Not ever at the starts – which was a running joke, especially when the hotel we stayed at once in Dublin actually overlooked the start of the race! I could almost always make out Dad’s voice or even spot him occasionally in the crowd of onlookers. I remember the first time I ran the Dublin marathon as I came round one of the final bends. Dad was right on the corner and gave me a big thumbs up and I heard Mum’s voice a few metres later… That was when I ran my fastest marathon in 3 hours 26 minutes and I remember the spur of speed their support gave me at the end.
In the four London marathons I have run, it has been difficult to see them in the crowd. Although Dad’s bellowing voice was always quite unmistakable, along with that of my sister’s crazy whistle which must nearly deafen whoever stands next to her. They all even managed to sneak into the VIP stands one year and saw me “sprint” to the finish line.
I have somehow managed to secure a place in the London Marathon for 2016. It is with mixed emotions that I look towards the next six months of training. For 8 weeks I have not been for a proper run. I look at my trainers on my kitchen floor waiting for me to put them on. I will have to – there is no doubt about that. I’ve been teaching my classes for the last three weeks at my gym and as I haven’t collapsed in a heap on the floor after the indoor group cycling classes, I know that I haven’t completely lost my fitness – and I apparently seem to have made them tougher in the last month, so one of my clients told me between gasps for breath!
I will be running the London Marathon for a charity, one which helped my Dad a bit on his cancer journey and which has given some strength through support to my Mum. It is Maggie’s Centres, a wonderful charity who support people and their families going through cancer. You can drop in for a chat, advice, a coffee and biscuit. They provide a place of calm to combat the whirling emotions that come with cancer. So watch this space as I will start my fundraising at some point…
I’m also hoping that running the London Marathon will help keep me fired up and fighting fit because my place in the Atacama Crossing has been transferred to 2016… The team at 4 Deserts have been very supportive in transferring my race entry. So, the journey begins again!!!

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