A Metronomic Start to Janathon

running cadence

This is the first Janathon where I haven’t logged a run within minutes of the midnight chimes. I did plan to, I had my kit laid out next to the bubbly but when push came to shove my cold and a deep sleep overcame me and I retired to bed instead.

A truly wild and rocking start to 2015!

So now I have a more sedate, mid-afternoon, Janathon kick off and today’s focus is running cadence.

Everywhere I turn at the moment I see information about running cadence, I feel bombarded. I’ve been reading about efficient cadence in Unbreakable Runner (a very good book about training with Cross Fit Endurance), I’ve been monitoring it on my new Garmin 920XT and this morning I received an interesting video email from James Dunne (Kinetic Revolution) on the subject.

It’s time to dabble. The last time I checked I was running with a cadence of 155 steps per minute. Rather unsurprisingly I am not the model of a lean mean running machine – the typically stated goal for an efficient cadence pattern is 180.

Here’s my attempt at running my legs off for Janathon, guided by the Garmin 920XT metronome feature which was beeping and vibrating at 172/2 bpm.

Dabbling with #running #cadence. 155 steps per minute followed by 172 steps per minute

A post shared by 💪 @warriorwoman (@warriorwoman) on

Although I felt decidedly ridiculous at 172 spm, I don’t think the transition looks very noticeable on my video. In contrast, James Dunne’s  YouTube video illustrates a more dramatic change in form following a similar 10% increase in cadence.

I’m tempted to experiment further and see how long I can hold a cadence of 172 spm, I can see that footfall seems to be improved but it strikes me as a rather exhausting improvement.

 

A Lunge for the Samaritans

I’ve just started another 12 week round of fitness and fat loss with Julia Buckley. Last time was The Fat Burn Revolution but now its stepped up a notch and become Extreme Inferno.

I kicked off the week with an Insanity styled grilling called SweatMax. After 25 minutes leaping around the front room I was left with a semi-permanent frown, sweat blindness and a mass of lumpen concrete where my calf used to be. Just my cup of tea.

Side plank dips

Today was time for MetaSculpt which meant I got to drag out the dumbbells again and partake in increasingly tricky, whole body moves. Here’s Julia illustrating the particularly nasty side plank dip. I managed 5 heavily modified side plank dips before deciding it was time to move on to the next set. Unfortunately that meant I had to start lunging on my dodgy calf. I’m not good at lunging at the best of times and as my Achilles appears to have calcified these were especially wobbly versions.

Side plank dips

I therefore surprised myself when on the morning walk into work, I managed to perform the smoothest and deepest lunge of my adult life.

I spotted, a few yards ahead of me, a discarded crumple of paper. The paper had a certain quality about it, the sort that makes you not want to draw too much attention. I looked ahead, ensuring that I wouldn’t give anything away with my line of sight. And then I walked on and in perfect flow, I dipped with a knee to floor action, scooped up the crumple and came back up again into a walk.

I continued on my way and didn’t examine my pickings until I’d cleared at least a mile. To my delight I found two £5 notes scrunched together and now sitting in my hands.

Not wanting to offend the pavement gods I have now deposited the offering in my Samaritans charity fund. So my Grand Union Canal Challenge fund is slowly rising but I still have a very dodgy calf and a very, very long walk to do this weekend.

A Juneathon Triple

I’ve had a mini streak.

3 days jogged and logged but I’ve fallen at the blogging hurdle.

Each run has been just a tiny bit worse than the last one. It started on Friday with a late night run after an “end of exams” celebratory evening. I valiantly tackled the hilly, round the block, circuit with a half chicken and 3 bottle of Sagres inside me.

They did their absolute best not to stay inside me.

Sunset over Putney Bridge

On Day 14 (a Saturday) I slept in til 11:30am and therefore missed all parkrun opportunities and risked a repeat of last weeks midday sun showdown. I opted for an easier life and relaxed until sundown before embarking on a Thames loop with Lynn. I only had a light salad for tea so there was no chicken tapping desperately on my stomach wall but I felt pretty wretched nonetheless. I gasped my way around a shortened 6k loop and grasped at hypochondriacal straws.

Today I thought I’d remove any meal obstacles, so I could neither blame half chickens or light salads for my running malaise. I rolled out of bed at 9am and hit the treadmill without even a coffee passing my lips.

I opted for a 20 minute HIT session and would like to say I killed that routine. Rather predictably though, it came closer to killing me.

Lets hope Juneathon Week 3 welcomes a fitter me.

Mad Dogs

#wakeupTerrible timing today.

I was on twitter this morning trying to get Lynn to wake up so we could hit the trail. It would have been more effective to have given her nudge.

As it was, we didn’t get to leave the house til midday and then spent at least an hour driving the 30 mins to Putney. Most of it was spent jumping from bumper to bumper in Wandsworth.

When we finally arrived at the river, the sun was baking. Every runner passing us looked thoroughly jaded, in a damp, beetroot impression of jaded, and I was a little nervous about starting to run.

We started, and my heart rate rapidly climbed to 168 desperate beats per minute and stayed like that til we reached Hammersmith. By Hammersmith my guts had knotted themselves so tightly that I had to crawl into Riverside Studios in an attempt to recover.

That recovery took 15 mins and I was still shaken when we set off again.

There was a hint of a breeze and the stretch of riverside pubs were upon us. Watching other people drinking ice cold lagers gave me some peculiar relief and I began to feel a bit better and was actually encouraged to extend our planned 8k to a 10k.

The extension was probably a mistake.

When we turned back it felt like the oven door had been opened and we had 5k left to retrace our steps.

It turned into a run/walk torment but we made it back to the car without passing out and my Garmin declared it to be the fastest 10k I’ve run since I got the watch for Xmas. That can only indicate quite how lazy this year has been – there was nothing fast about today. It was beautiful though.

The Thames

A Stretch Challenge for Day 4 and 6

I have overuse niggles from the waist downwards. Tender spot on my hip, tight hamstrings and a couple of shin splints for good measure.

I basically haven’t yet recovered from my very long walk almost 2 weeks ago.

It’s been quite fortuitous that while I’m in need of some rehab, James Dunne of Kinetic Revolution has just released a 30 day challenge to make me a better runner.

The challenge consists of 15 min exercise sessions mixing up stretches and balance routines. I’ve been working on my hip flexors and hamstrings so far and have loved the one-legged slo-mo sprinting.

There are a glut of 30 day challenges doing the rounds for June. Lynn has signed up the Ab Challenge which I think she might regret on Day 30. It looks like a recipe for an injury or two to me.

The Ab Challenge

Running with the Foxes

I went out for a solo run this evening. Just me, the dope dealers on the hill, and a load of foxes.

The dealers remained in their BMWs, exhaling aromatic compounds from the windows but the foxes criss-crossed my path the entire way round.

On my third loop, 3 small fox cubs tumbled out across the path and started playing on the verge. They eyed me warily, but despite me plodding along in my massive Hoka’s and breathing like an exhausted asthmatic, they stayed put while I passed.

It was too dark for photographs so instead of a cute image of frolicking fox cubs, you’ll have to make do with an image of my route from Strava. The image in the left was the route recorded by my top of the range Garmin 620 and the one on the right using the free Strava app on my iphone. I feel a little robbed.

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A First Strava Crown

I downloaded Strava to my phone this morning, half expecting it to nestle between the many other unused GPS run logs that do little more than clog up my iPhone memory, but while reading a few Juneathon blog posts before work I was intrigued to see that @BandTRuns was coincidentally mentioning Strava Segments.

It seems that Strava segments are snippets of routes that you can monitor yourself against. These segments can either be private or public and if they are public you get to see how you fair against other local runners.

It sounds like a rather intriguing concept and provided sufficient motivation for me to leave the treadmill behind and head out for a late night circuit of the local posh houses. Lynn joined me and we did 3 loops, actually managing to keep running to the top of the hill on each circuit as well. My heartrate was drifting with each additional loop and may well have maxed out if I’d tried for a  fourth.

Strava Segment Crown

I chose to use my Garmin 620 rather than the Strava iPhone app so I could monitor heart rate as well as pace and would worry about the connection issues between Strava and Garmin later. It did in fact prove to be more of a faff than I’d hoped. The Garmin Communicator doesn’t work with the latest Garmin 620 and unfortunately Strava doesn’t work with the wifi upload or Garmin Connect mobile device.

DC Rainmaker came to the rescue with his instructional post on automating the upload and syncing of training devices and fitness sites and I am currently 65% of the way through a major synchronisation using tapirik to link Strava, Garmin Connect, Sporttracks and Dropbox.

I uploaded today’s run manually so I could check out the segments and was a bit miffed to see that there were none in my circuit. I have created a tiny segment now though and am currently the fastest and only runner to have completed it. I believe I now have a crown.

Long may it last.

Reluctant Running in Happy Valley

I had planned an early night followed by an early morning session on the treadmill but then Happy Valley intervened.

We started with a quick episode before bed but one thing led to another and episode 4 happened.

If you’ve seen episode 4 you’ll understand the havoc it plays with any desire to sleep or at least any desire to lie down in a darkened room. Adrenaline was buzzing so we slipped into episode 5 hoping for some relief.

At 1:30 am we ran out of episodes and finally went to bed.

That brings me to my 7am alarm and an extremely low desire to get up and run.

Being made of especially stern Juneathon stuff, I did of course get up and drag my reluctant body down to the treadmill for a short and unimpressive plod.

I went from running in Putney yesterday to running through the Forests of Maine today.

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A Juneathon Recovery Run

I’ve had my feet up for most of the past week, recovering slowly from the after effects of the London2Brighton walk.

Today was the 1st of June and that means an end to bone-idleness, masquerading as recovery, and the start to Juneathon – a month of running and ever more tedious daily blog posts. Apologies in advance to any subscribers.

We got up early and headed to Putney, to run 6k around the Thames.

We set off at a remarkably spritely pace until my shin splints appeared and the pain in hamstrings re-asserted itself. I considered stopping and heading back but I slowed down and by the time we’d reached Hammersmith I was beginning to feel rather comfortable.

So that’s my first Juneathon of the year completed and I’m looking forward to a few more runs ahead of me.

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The UnderRound Challenge – A Marathon of Selfies

In my quest to complete at least one 100km challenge this year, my weekends have been given over to long and usually dreary walks. In an attempt to stir things up I thought I’d try a home-brew challenge. Inspired by the last issue of Outdoor Fitness magazine which ran an article on DIY challenges, I resurrected my interest in The UnderRound initiated by Rory Coleman.

The UnderRound is a challenge requiring you to travel approximately 42km above and below ground by visiting the platforms of 42 different London Underground stations. The official route takes an anti-clockwise rotation starting and finishing at London Kings Cross. In case you are in doubt, you must use the stairs wherever they are available resulting in about 3000 feet of ascent on top of your marathon.

The UnderRound Challenge
I started the day in a fairly leisurely fashion, sneaking the first of many selfies at 10:30 am.

I was off, striding purposefully towards Euston ticking off 7 platforms in just over a mile stretch along the Euston Road. I’d guess it took me about an hour to clear that mile but the distance travelled underground could easily have added another two to the tally.

It was a glorious hot Sunday and my above ground stretches were positively mediterranean. It hurt me to walk past all the street cafes offering long, cool, glasses of lager and I think this torment may have added to the increasingly grumpy faces. I only managed one smile through the whole ordeal and that was only because I’d spotted “the best ice cream” shop at the entrance to Queensway. I deserved it after ascending 123 steps of the spiral staircase.

I started the day counting every step but I got completely fagged off with that idea by about station 4 and then just relied on the excessively cautious warning messages at the top of each staircase “WARNING – 83 STEPS. USE ONLY IN CASE OF EMERGENCIES”

My Selfish View of the UnderRound

My least favourite stretch was Knightsbridge to Gloucester Road which was long and littered with hordes of shambling sightseers. At this stage I was not interested in adding any extra steps by weaving in and out of bodies so I was probably at my all time arsi-est here.

From Sloane Square to Cannon Street, a stretch of 9 stations, 7 of them were closed for planned engineering works. This of course had the huge benefit of preventing me from descending to platform level but it began to feel like cheating and did result in a fairly deserted final quarter of the event.

If I were to do the event again I think I’d try the clockwise route, so that I hit The City sections earlier in the day. At 8pm on a bank holiday Sunday the place was deserted. I walked miles in desperate need of the loo and every pub was shut. I eventually reached a tiny oasis by Farringdon station where a solitary pub provided blessed relief and the second smile of the day.

Russell SquareI reached the final station, Russell Square at about 9:30pm and you can probably imagine my joy to see the sign at the top of the stairs.

All in all it was a noble challenge, but as with all DIY challenges it is sadly lacking in post-event bling, I’ve had to make do with one slightly battered travelcard, now stuck on the fridge door, to remind me of the ordeal.