Monday morning hurts

13 Jun

If you’ve ever put petrol in a diesel car you’ll know how my legs felt this morning.

Egged on by twitter power from @alanjslater @Runningthetube @kaz_wright I made an uncharacteristic morning gym visit.

Hopping on the treadmill I was feeling pretty smug – look at me eating healthy breakfast and exercising BEFORE work.

Only the exercising part didn’t go so well due to shin-splinty legs and a weird pain in my thighs.

I don’t quite know what went wrong, but it really was painful and I decided to stop running before I did some damage, instead walking 3k just so I didn’t feel like the whole trip had been a waste.

That made the legs feel a lot more normal, so I had a bit of a crosstrainer session as it meant no pounding my bones into the floor.

I still feel cheated though – all that effort to get there and all legs can do is splutter to an undignified stop.

This is either (a) due to the fact I never run in the morning and my body was in shock, (b) I have been working too many crazy late shifts at work and need to calm things down or (c) I’m a person who doesn’t exercise enough trying to exercise everyday.

A, B or C? I think I know the answer…

Grumpy goes for a run

12 Jun

A run will snap me out of a bad mood, as a general rule.

I tend to find that whatever winds me up during the day is overshadowed by the more pressing need to breathe, run through a stitch and not get mowed down by traffic.

But today it just wasn’t working. My inner grumpy monologue was not going to give up.


the grouch doesn't give up

“It’s raining and it’s not going to stop,” it reminded me every 30 seconds.

Interspersed with, “and your legs feel like lead” and the occasional refrain of “this isn’t as much fun as yesterday’s bike ride”.

In a huff I turned back towards home after it piped up with the killer line “AND you’ve got to go to work tonight”.

I got back even more grumpy than when I set out, because I’d been beaten by the inner grump – which made me mad.

Then I realised what a self-fulfilling grumpy prophecy it had all become and decided that I might as well go to work as it’s wet and windy outside and I’ve done my Juneathon for the day.

Distance: 1.26miles
Time: 00:11:30
Pace: 09:07

Bike back

11 Jun

In an earlier post I alluded to an unfortunate biking incident in Milton Keynes which has made me apprehensive of my new bike.

I was talked into getting the bike in the first place by my boyfriend who is a cycling fiend.

He had found this great social enterprise scheme in London where I could buy a bike, and in doing so help homeless people gain the skills and experience they need to go on to work as bike mechanics.

It’s a brilliant little set up which supports, skills and provides references for people who would otherwise have no chance of getting a job.

So, ignoring the fact I hadn’t ridden a bike for approximately 15 years, I bought one. Then realised we were in Bow and we needed to get back to Chelsea.

After point blank refusing to cycle across central London I was coaxed into taking a circuitous route, involving an overland train journey.

The next day we took the bikes out to Richmond Park and had the most amazing morning with the deer, the grass all frosty and the sun shining. I was getting to enjoy this cycling lark.

So much so that I agreed to cycle through central London – Sloane Square, Marble Arch, The Mall, Euston – the following morning (a Saturday), on the condition we got up at 6.30am and were cycling on hopefully empty roads by 7am.

The plan went like clockwork and we arrived at Euston to take a train to Milton Keynes to visit our friend Ash who had been exiled there for a year.

Ash said one of Milton Keyne’s few selling points was its miles of bike lanes, totally separate from the traffic.

What could possibly go wrong?

A wet leaf, that’s what. A sharp turn, a slight down hill stretch and a slippery bit of foliage and I came a cropper in a spectacular lycra-ripping, knee-grazing, tear-inducing fashion.

After patching me up we went to the pub and played Scrabble.

Since then I’ve been scared of the bike, but I can’t leave it rotting in the garage – it would be such a waste.

So a few weeks back on a bank holiday Monday when the roads were empty I took it out for a tentative one mile test run.

I didn’t die, but I did wobble quite a lot.

A few more test rides have followed, each with their own little pleasures such as realising my leggings had a hole in the bum and the chain falling off when I attempted to change gears while peddaling up hill, and my confidence has built.

So today the sun was shining and I went for a six mile spin to the park, around the lake and back. For the first time I enjoyed it.

I found that unlike running, cycling isn’t a constant battle to keep going thanks to the occasional blessed down hill bits, which meant I had a moment to let my thoughts wander and enjoy the day.

The hills still hurt though, and by the time I got back my legs were like jelly – but I took that as a sign they’d been working hard. Better still, it gave my joints a day off from running.

Puppy power!

10 Jun

I don’t normally warm up – I just zoom out the door before I can change my mind.

But today was different because Hettie the new puppy was refusing to go to sleep in her cage (a short-term measure until she learns that chewing furniture is not acceptable) which meant I couldn’t leave the house until she’d stopped yowling. The neighbours don’t like yowling.

She’s not old enough to come with me on runs – her final vaccination is next week – so the only thing for it was to chase her around the garden in the hope I’d tire her out.


Legs stretched thanks to Hettie I hit the road. I was aiming for six miles, but came a bit short as the last stretch was an unpleasant slog.

I wasn’t too hard on myself, as yesterday was a crazy day that started at 6am and involved a stupid train journey, a late shift at work which went on until midnight and someone calling in sick – these things happen. I interviewed David Morrissey, took lots of calls about a factory fire and mopped up what felt like a zillion other odds and sods before the paper went to press on time – just.

David Morrisseyy

David Morrissey

In fact about the only thing yesterday’s enormous to-do list didn’t involve was a Juneathon run – but that was due to a complete lack of time, not motivation.

Also as today’s is the longest of Juneathon so far, and therefore a success, I figure today can count for yesterday too?

When I got back Hettie helped me to stretch by chewing my shoelaces and sitting on my stomach as I tried to pull my knees into my chest.

Distance: 5.234miles
Time: 00:50:00
Pace: 09:33
Amount of time you can be angry with a naughty puppy: 00:00:03

In stitches

8 Jun

It isn’t a laughing matter, so no sniggering at the back please.

I ran the last half a mile today with the worst stitch I’ve ever had – because it felt like two stitches in one across my stomach.

Despite the Stitch Of Death I soldiered on, and in fact if anything I think it made me run faster, because I was so keen to get the pain over with.

A decent breakfast today may also have helped speed me up – after my highly scientific study I can confirm that yesterday’s ginger biscuits and slice of buttered toast (white bread for extra minus points) did not provide the same energy boost as today’s double helping of good old weetabix.

My legs are really beginning to feel tired now it’s day eight and I’m weighing up getting the bike out tomorrow to vary the impact on my joints which have made themselves known in a “what the bloody hell are you doing to us?!” kind of way today.

So the bike makes sense, but it is also my nemesis after an incident in Milton Keynes involving a wet leaf and the pavement which didn’t end well. I’ll take the decision tomorrow, depending on how much pain I’m in.

The end of June is starting to seem a very long way away…

Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 0:23:00
Pace: 09:11
Joy at realising this was MUCH faster than yesterday: Infinite

Afternoon running

7 Jun

I’m working later than usual today, so had time free this afternoon for a run.

I normally do my running in the evening after work or first thing before I leave for the day, so a 2pm run was a novelty.

I noticed that you see far more pensioners, prams and dog walkers at that time of day – perfect for a nosey parker such as myself.

The run was fairly uneventful, my legs weren’t really in the mood today – but Juneathon got me out the door, so that’s a result.

Scissor Sisters on the BB helped too, bringing my run to a suitably uplifting anthemic close with Fire with Fire.

Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 0:28:00
Pace: 11:11

In which I walk more than I think I do

7 Jun

This is the part where I do my bit for the “annual festival of excuses” aspect of Juneathon. Well, someone has to right?

So while the rest of you were out pounding the pavements yesterday, returning on your endorphin highs, I was pounding the keypad of my waterlogged blackberry trying to bring it back to life.

When I’m running alone I need music, or else there is no running. So when the BB gave up the ghost yesterday there was no music, and no running.

There was also no time for the gym, so I have been forced to scrape the exercise barrel and am pleasantly surprised by what I’ve found.

Most days I take a bus to and from work, walking to the bus stop. Having plugged in the route to distance map tools website I am amazed to learn that this is a round walking trip of 2.2miles. Who knew?

So yesterday my Juneathon exercise was a 2.2mile walk, but it feels like a hollow victory so I’m off for a proper run now accompanied by a working BB.

Primrose Hill

6 Jun

My Juneathon tour of London continued on Sunday, taking me to Primrose Hill.

There was no point trying to celeb spot – apparently Kate, Sadie, Sienna and Jude are all long gone – and besides it was pouring down with rain and very unglam on a Sunday night.

My boyfriend was insistent we did our Juneathon duty and wouldn’t be persuaded that a few sit ups in the living room would be sufficient, so off we went.

Primrose Hill is, as the name suggests, a hill so he ran up it and I huffed and puffed along behind. I’d spent the afternoon in the pub and wasn’t sure I should be running after polishing off a gin and tonic and a couple of glasses of wine. Don’t drink and run kids.

Anyway, what with the hill, the rain and the booze it was all a bit of slog, with the only highlight boyfriend’s attempt to kiss me while on the run. No tongues, obviously.

Distance: 2 miles
Time: 0:20:00
Pace: 10:00

The world’s most expensive gym

6 Jun

My best friend lives in Chelsea and is a member of the Fullham Road branch of Virgin Active – the most expensive gym in the world*.

She claims to have got an introductory deal bargain and says she’s only doing it for three months in the run up to a holiday, but nonetheless regular membership costs an eye-watering, heart palpitating £1,200 a year. Maybe part of the work out is the increased heart rate as you part with that kind of cash?

On Saturday she signed me in as a guest, giving me a glimpse of the rarefied world of the Chelsea set as they work up a sweat.

“You won’t believe the number of YSL gym bags you see in the locker room,” she told me as we walked there.

At that moment a man with a large, live blue parrot on his arm (not stuffed this time – that was last week) passed us before turning into a smart town house.

“That man’s got a big blue parrot,” I stated.

She looked at me, clearly wondering if I could still be drunk from the night before.

To prove the point I insisted on breaking into a run so she could get a better view. This achieved, she had to admit that he did indeed have a big blue parrot on his arm and that I was sober.

Dazzled by the knowledge I was now in a part of town where distinguished looking 60-something gentlemen own exotic pets, I began to imagine what extravagances the world’s most expensive gym would indulge in.

On arrival I was disappointed to note a distinct lack of diamond encrusted trainers and gold-plated water bottles.

That said it didn’t take me long to realise that this gym was different.

If I were a single female looking for a rich hubbie to fund my ladies that lunch lifestyle I’d sign up immediately. It’s a would-be banker’s wife’s paradise.

The main gym is full of men, without doubt they all work in the city. I think you can probably taste the testosterone in there.

As we aren’t in the market for a Gordon Gekko we opted for the ladies only gym, and were greeted by the sight as a statuesque blonde model holding an arabesque pose standing on one leg and admiring herself in the mirror.

There’s clearly an under size 14 rule in operation as everyone in there was toned, tanned and owned thighs that didn’t touch when they put their feet together.

We had a good bash at 20 minutes of interval training to get the heart rate up, a bit of boring cross training and then we went to play on all of the exciting expensive equipment my gym doesn’t have.

The powerplate had me in fits of giggles, I felt like a turkey wobble personified. How on earth is that supposed to help you get fit? Perhaps the mortifying sensation of feeling your excess pounds wibbling for all to see reinforces the desire to lose them?

When I got off a Swedish goddess got on and did a complicated medicine ball twist sit-ups routine while balancing on the powerplate. It was impressive, but it did cross my mind that it must have taken weeks to master, and perhaps there are more important things in life. Then it crossed my mind I was just jealous.

Of course I’m being completely unfair – I’m sure there are lots of pretty toyboys and inspiring women of independent means who work out there too – not least my wonderful BFF – but it’s still the best people-watching work out I’ve ever had, even if no-one spritzed my face with mineral water or mopped my brow with a cashmere towel while I was on the rower.

*This may not be true.

A brief intermission

3 Jun

Alarm buzzes, swear at alarm, realise I still need to pack for weekend away. Remember trainers for weekend of Juneathon activities.

Arrive at desk in semi-human state requiring immediate caffeine administration.

Find out a man has been beaten up and shot in his own home over night. Regret wearing ladylike dress and heels given prospect of heading off to Huyton like this. Another reporter is sent.

News editor threatens to hold weekend suitcase hostage until I file copy. He looks like he means it.

Shift is supposed to end. I am on the phone trying to reason with a member of the public.

I am on train to London despite palaver over buying wrong ticket from the not-so-fast ticket machine.

Arrive in London, pick up keys and hit pub at 6.30pm for drinks with friends I haven’t seen for more than a year and who are engaged.

It is impossible to squeeze in Juneathon unlesss I attempt a tipsy jog at midnight. Inadvisable.

To make up for this the weekend ahead will consist of tennis, gym and run.

Distance: Zero
Time: Insufficient
Pace: Frantic
Excuses: Many and varied

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