Monday, 30 April 2007

A warning

When a bod has spent 44 years being largely idle, don't push it too hard!

The visits to the gym are now about weekly, as I'm running twice and walking twice a week; but it's important to use the gym for the strength / flexibility / motivation bit. For Sunday's PT session, Kim had prepared a great little circuit in the Studio, including weights, steps and the like - looked like the school playground!

We started with some brief runs at speed along the length of the Studio, then went to stepping. I hesitated over a step, which put me off my stroke for a moment; and a couple of steps later, something went "ping" at the top of my left calf...

Ouch. Or words to that effect. That hurt. Not the Achilles (too far up) nor the hamstring (too far down), thank goodness; but clearly some muscle had made its presence felt. So after some massage and stretching, we concentrated on upper body for the rest of the session.

Of course, I had this heavy feeling of doom: what if it stops me running next Sunday? (Especially as I have £640 in sponsorship and pledges!) But somehow, I think not. We had a concert in one of our churches in the evening, given by the scholars of Gresham's School (very good, too) and weirdly, when I dressed up to attend the concert, my leg was more comfortable when I wore heels. A hot bath at the end of the day and a decent sleep helped; and now, Monday evening, it's a lot less painful. So resting it today and tomorrow (and I have loads of client work to do at the PC, so that's no bad thing), and perhaps trying a walk on Wednesday all being well, I think it'll be fine.

I think it had to happen at some point - and if a couple of days' rest is really all this needs, it's acted as a useful warning not to get too over-excited. Mind you, I was getting very fidgety at the thought of no exercise for longer than two days. That's a mind-set that I really don't want to change - I'm enjoying the "new me" far too much for that.

Sunday, 29 April 2007

A few steps further

Our Friday night run seems to be getting to be a (very welcome) habit at the end of the working week. Having got over the worst of the aches from earlier in the week, I invited Kim to come to me for our run, and set out with my husband in the morning to try out our planned 3 mile route. Instead of going the usual way down to the gates of Morton Hall and back again, we walked further down the road and took a later footpath in through the back of the estate, then out by the normal route; and reckoned that it was about three miles, or perhaps just slightly shorter.

It turned into another beautiful evening, and after tea and a chat Kim and I set off. The bits through the field and across the farmyard were, we decided, a bit tricky at this stage - the last thing we want is a sprained ankle just before the Race for Life - but we jogged them slowly, nonetheless, and got round the whole thing and back home in about 21 minutes of jogging. We'd stopped for a stretch and a breather after about a mile, and walked a couple of short distances - oh, and stopped to say hello to the cows, too...

...but the result was that (apart from the final, tiny uphill slope on the last few yards back home, which is always a killer) it was a comfortable run, and I kept going for much longer than I'd ever have dreamed when I started all this running lark - which was just five weeks ago.

Of course, we then took advantage of all this exercise-calorie-burning, and having eaten at Kim's local last week, this time it was the turn of the Parson Woodforde over the road to the Rectory!

Wednesday, 25 April 2007


OK, so I had done a run (3m) with Kim on Friday evening and 2 x 1m to Morton hall on Saturday morning, followed by a fairly intensive weights sessions on Saturday afternoon... so I was pushing it a bit?

When I got out of the car at the end of my two-hour drive down to London on Sunday, everything was screaming. On Monday I walked a lot - from my parents' house to the station (1.3 miles), plus after work up the hill to Notting Hill Gate for the St George's Day service - and this so did not feel like a fit person! Every time I stood up from a seat, the thighs rebelled. Owowowowowow.

However, by Tuesday morning matters had improved somewhat, and I managed a half-jog-half-walk both to and from the station - carrying shoulder bag and carrier bag - so was encouraged again. More encouraging were comments from an old friend at the St George service who hadn't seen me for some little while!

Incidentally, I've come to the conclusion that it's easier to stay fit in London than in the beautiful countryside. If I don't go out for the gym or a walk when I'm working at home, I'm lucky to hit 2,000 steps. Monday showed nearly 13,000 steps. Commuting obviously has to have something going for it!

Saturday, 21 April 2007

And more, and more...

Having run 3 miles yesterday, I found myself adding a further two miles and a PT session today!

Ann at Morton Hall needed help with her computer, so to run down there, do the work and run back seemed the right thing to do ("do you need running home?" she asked; "no, I'm running home" was the reply!). Having done last night's run, I have to admit that there wasn't much "flying" on either mile of today's effort; my poor body was clearly screaming after all these years, what do you think you're doing - but I made it - down in one, back in one, apart from a brief pause each way to take photos on the mobile of a little of Ann's beautiful bluebell woods.

Home for a very quick lunch, then back to the gym for a PT session. I was feeling the effects of two weeks' break from the weights and stretches; great to feel the CV improving all the time, but I need to keep the strength training up as well, or that poor body really will get confused! We tried a couple of the machines that effectively mean you supporting your own body weight (which despite improvement, is still not inconsiderable) and those really were tough. However, I enjoyed the session and felt a lot better for it.

Incidentally, we had some fun checking my measurements. Taking a measurement and then holding a tape measure to where it was back in mid-January is very satisfying... (hips -7cm, waist -3 cm, bust -6.5cm, upper arms -2.5cm each) . Welcome back, half of my wardrobe.

Truly running

I went to Kim's home and we had a run together. It was a glorious evening - still unseasonably warm for mid-April - and the combination of vivid yellow rapeseed fields and blue skies was stunning.

She'd clocked a route of three miles, through some country lanes and down into town. When we started, I was going at my usual reasonably slow pace, and took a while to warm up; the muscles still kicked in with a distracting nag. However... around about a mile into the run, something freed up and for just a couple of minutes I was able to run without being aware of aches and pains. The feeling came and went, a minute or two at a time, but it was there.

We jogged about 1.5 miles without a break, which was more than I'd managed before; and until the small slope uphill at the end of this section, the HR didn't go above 155 bpm. We walked for a few minutes, stopped, stretched and set off again. And then, right at the end of the run, I felt like flying - speeded up to a genuine run rather than a jog. And felt amazing.

The sunset was beautiful across the surrounding Norfolk countryside.

Friday, 20 April 2007

Inspirational people

I had a great email from a friend in the USA, who comments that we seem to be leading parallel lives. Pat says:

I changed my eating habits totally last fall (actually following the South Beach Diet to some extent-- more protein, less carbs, no white food - flour, pasta, rice -- only whole grains, etc) and really stepping up my fitness -- YMCA cross-training, step class, Yoga, biking to work, long walks, etc -- and as a result have lost 40 lbs. since last Sept! How cool are we??

It's fantastic to have somebody across the Atlantic who is making a similar journey. Pat has been enjoying my blog, and in fact her partner Frieda is one of those "on my back" for the R4L as a survivor. In respect of the running, Pat goes on to say:

I haven't graduated to running yet -- about a city block now and then to see if I can do it, but I have 54 year old knees! I have a friend who is 58, though, and she ran the Twin Cities Marathon last year and wants me to run it with her either when she turns 60 or I do and to that I say, "Ha!" I just can't see it. But never say never, I guess.

This led me to remember stories of some older people who have achieved amazing things in the fitness line. I mentioned yesterday our friend Peter, who, at approaching 70, is fitter than many men half his age. The father of Kim, my PT, is another great example. Then there are a couple that I have come across recently in publications:

Renee Clarke (born 1926) - you'll find an article about her here on the Rosemary Conley website. She's based in Surrey, near where I used to live, and seems still to be taking part in events with her local running club, the Epsom Oddballs.

Jenny Wood Allen (born 1911) - here shown on the BBC website (scroll to the end of the article), but you'll find references to her in many places on the internet. From a quick Google, it appears that Jenny last ran in about 2001; since then, she's walked the London Marathon in 2002, received an MBE in the 2006 New Year Honours List, and took part in the 2006 Great Scottish Walk.

So for those of us in our 40s and 50s, there's very little excuse!

Here's to every one of us, young and old, who break through the boundaries of what we, or the rest of the world, thought we could do.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

That's better

Right. Today I had the right support (!) and jogging trousers that fitted; so a mile down to Morton Hall and a mile back, with two brief walking breaks going and in one hit coming back, was more successful than yesterday!

Between the two I stopped to explain to Ralph, who works at the Hall, just what this mad woman was up to, as he was standing in the Hall driveway looking baffled at my approach. "I've seen another fella doing this sometimes, too" he said - I worked out that this was Peter, who lives in our village and is not far off seventy, but jogs frequently and as a result is fantastically fit.

The bluebells at the Hall are looking gorgeous - I must take the camera down next time I go. This is a wonderful time of year to be starting this sort of journey.

The run was followed this afternoon by a second sports massage from James, who manages to be charming whilst he's making you wince with pain... whoever thought there could be so many small muscles in the legs that could hurt?! Actually, the legs did feel a lot better afterwards. I'm due to go for a run with Kim on Friday, so it will be interesting to see if the calves shriek in protest as soon as usual.


First chance to go out for a run since getting back from holiday, emerging late afternoon from the emails and the laundry. Clearly in too much of a hurry to think straight!

Halfway down our lane I realised two things: one, that I'd forgotten to put on a sports bra instead of the regular variety (and despite weight loss, there's no way I can jog without major support!); and two, that the jogging trousers I'd grabbed, which I hadn't worn since last summer, were not only too big but actually falling down as I ran... (Have you seen that advert for Nimble bread where the workmen keep losing their jeans?) After an abortive couple of minutes of attempted running with one hand across the bazookas and the other holding up my trousers, I gave it up as a bad job and took a two-mile walk instead!!

This evening was our wedding anniversary (twelfth), so we had a lovely meal at the Ratcatcher's Inn, near Cawston. Having stuck to one glass of wine per night for several weeks, I felt decidedly tiddly on half a bottle...

Monday, 16 April 2007


OK, so anybody reading this is probably sick of me sounding smug... but this is more of an achievement than I'd have believed possible.

Every holiday I've returned from, since the dawn of time, has shown an increase of weight. This holiday I didn't worry about it too much: normal three meals a day, one glass of wine with supper (even a pub fish & chips one night!), and when my husband had a slice of lemon cake with his tea ("just to top up the carbohydrate, you understand") I'd have a mouthful. (Oh, and it's about time there was a photo of one of my greatest supporters, so here he is with said delicious lemon cake - we were visiting the beautiful and tranquil Helmsley Walled Garden at the time.)

The pedometer readings for the week have been impressive - lots of wandering up and down beaches, round towns, up and down the one-in-four hill into Staithes, and up and down the five flights of stairs in our cottage. During the days there, the lowest was just under 7,000 steps; the highest (on Thursday, which included my jog in the morning) was over 16,000. If ever there was proof that this is the way to eat, drink, be merry and look the way I want to, this is it.

When I last reported back on this blog (4th April), I was 10-12 (152 lb). I'd kept quiet about the scales registering 154 lb on the day we went away (as you do).

This morning it was 151 lb.


Running in the mist


Most of this week has been glorious, but Friday & Saturday were pretty foggy. We'd identified Sandsend as the one long local(ish) beach, and drove the few miles down the coast on Saturday morning. I despatched my long-suffering husband to warm up in a nearby cafe, looked down the beach into a dense fog, and started off...

Actually, it was exhilarating. As I got further away from the corner of the beach where the families (like true British stalwarts) were ignoring the poor weather and building sandcastles nonetheless, I found myself pretty well alone for the rest of the way - just one or two dog-walkers approaching from the other direction. The sound of the sea was wonderful, and even the grey dampness was very beautiful. I did the 15 minutes out in three five-minute hits, and the 15 minutes back in one.

I reckoned from the pedometer that I'd run about 2.5 km in total - the round trip - although it took a full half-hour, which would usually be more like 2.5 miles at my present rates. Either the pedometer is misjudging my distances, or it's just that running on sand is far, far slower than I thought! I'm now keener than ever to do enough of this that I can run without thinking of muscular discomfort... but just the feeling of doing it, though, is enough for the moment.

Then it was back to the cafe that Selwyn had been using for his coffee, now for our (delicious) lunch: the Bridge Cottage is a really charming place, clearly popular (we were glad to be there in April rather than August) and with excellent food.

No photos of me running in the mist, but here I am recovering afterwards!

A long beach at Saltburn


Typical. Find myself on a beautiful long beach, but by that time - after a long day of wandering, and a jog in the morning - can't summon the energy to make the most of it! It's a completely lovely evening - misty sun, surfers and horses and dogwalkers making the most of it - oh, and a couple of hundred steps down to the beach... Somebody is trying to tell me something.

So we settle for romantic photography instead.

Jogging on the sand

Wednesday evening & Thursday morning

We take a walk down to the beach outside our cottage on Wednesday evening. Having made boasts about "running along Yorkshire beaches", I become aware that in fact there are very few long stretches of beach to run along... and Staithes isn't one of them. I figure out that to run 1 km, I need to go back and forth across the little bit of sand available to me ten times each way; or five times out and back on the concrete harbour wall. It's not quite Baywatch, but hey.

In any event, this is me in the twilight on Wednesday evening, trying it out; on Thursday morning, I clock up about 2.5 km with a combination of harbour wall and beach. And running on sand is quite a test. Does it count extra brownie points?!

Did Robin Hood have a pedometer?


A visit to the glorious Robin Hood's Bay, complete with more lovely views and another excellent hill. The nice thing is that I would have found all these great walks pretty painful / exhausting / impossible until recently.

And I'm not as scared of the camera, either.

(What does Robin Hood [Nottinghamshire] have to do with Robin Hood's Bay [East Yorkshire], anyway?)

A very steep yellow brick road!

Easter Monday

We arrive in Staithes late in the afternoon (the drive is about 220 miles from Norfolk), and see the first evidence of exercise to come. The village is down a hill that's about 1 in 4, and the car stays at the top... Hey, that'll get the heartrate up!

(Incidentally, I checked just that a bit later in the week, and wore the HR monitor to walk up the hill. Was pleased to find that it didn't go above 140 bpm.)

Looking up the hill from the bottom... and down the hill from the top

It gets better, though. Our cottage - a lovely little place, with glorious views, especially from the sitting room on the top floor - is spread over five floors. Bring on the pedometer!

Monday, 9 April 2007

Feeling gorgeous

Remember the red top from East?

Tonight we went over the road to our great local pub, the Parson Woodforde, for an end-of-Holy-Week meal. (Interesting that I didn't feel the need to finish everything on the plate.) I dress in said red top, and a great black skirt with a very flirty hem which I bought in Bolton back in January; the skirt is now a little too big on the waist (I had to undo it halfway through the evening before) and my husband is very appreciative of the red top (and comments that Dean [the pub landlord]) will be, too! Together with a fabulous strawberry necklace and bracelet (also from East) I feel better about my appearance than I have done for years. There is a waist appearing there.

Actually, I also like the (rather grainy) photo that I took of myself earlier this evening using the webcam. Yes, I know it isn't as smiley, but it's the way I've always wanted to see myself - just a bit elegant and possibly slightly mysterious? Any friends of mine will probably fall about laughing at that idea, but there you go...

Today we're off to Staithes, on the Yorkshire coast, for a brief break, so time for walks around ancient monuments and jogs down the beach. Never thought I'd see the day when my most vital bit of packing was my trainers and sports bazooka holders. See you in a week's time...

Hello yellow brick road

Easter Sunday. One of the loveliest and most exhausting days in the church year. We start with the Easter Dawn service at 6:00 am (and therefore getting up at 4:00 am) at Great Witchingham, a stunning building with no electricity that lends itself to a service centered on candlelight. I am serving and sharing the singing of the psalms with my husband.

This is followed by rolls-and-marmalade-or-cheese for breakfast with the congregation, home for a brief rest, then off to Swannington for the well-attended (for this rural area - over 30) 10:00 am service. (Incidentally, we've included a note about the R4L in the weekly pew sheet, and two of the parishioners come and find me to offer sponsorship.) Coffee, chat, home to collapse.

We spend part of the afternoon watching that fabulous old chestnut, The Wizard of Oz. Once Dorothy has declared "There's no place like home", the Rev is off to do his final service of the week - Evensong - leaving me to take a run. Sitting on the sofa watching the box for two hours is something I seldom do, and the need to take some exercise is overwhelming! So I jog the mile down to Morton Hall in some lovely sunshine, take a five minute break for stretches and water, and jog the mile back; it takes exactly ten minutes each way. My muscles are still more easily tired than I would like, and I'm now working for that feeling of "freedom" that Kim describes where you can run without thinking about the body. It will come - a little bit further down the yellow brick road.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Support from my folks

My mum & dad have always been great, and supported me in whatever I do. They're as flabbergasted by this new approach to fitness as everybody else, and I was really touched today to get their cheque to sponsor me for £50 for the Race for Life, together with this note. (My mum loved the "norfolk broad" nickname which I use for my R4L page - apparently my dad didn't get it at first...)

Another fantastic day - Easter weekend looks set to be lovely. PT session with Kim - our last for a couple of weeks, as we'll be on holiday next week, and her new job means we'll need to meet evenings and weekends in future. We plan to get together for a run soon after we get back.

Friday, 6 April 2007

Good Friday Walk

Our benefice is about five miles from its northern to southernmost points. Today, our Good Friday walk took us between the three churches of Attlebridge, Alderford and Swannington which are in the northern part of the group - according to my Mapper software, a route of 2.7 miles (about 4.3 km).

The cross was carried with us, with members of the group taking turns, either carrying it solo (as my husband is doing here) or between two. There were sixteen of us at various points along the route, plus Megan the labrador, who gleefully explored every muddy puddle she could find!

There was a hymn, a brief reading and a prayer at each church, and then the very pleasant walk on a spring day on to the next place, concluding with the Good Friday afternoon service taking place at Swannington, where I was one of the choir singing some appropriate anthems.

A different but lovely way of increasing the steps on the pedometer - and nice to be able to chat whilst doing it, rather than getting out of puff as I would have done in previous years...

Thursday, 5 April 2007

This is the life

A stunning day - less like April than July. Kim came with me to try out the Lenwade Lakes circuit - which Kim agrees with me is probably about half a mile or slightly more - six times round, so about three miles.

We took the first and last at a normal walk; #2 was at a much faster pace than my usual, which I kept up for about 3/4 of the circuit before dropping to a walk; #3-5 were all jogged at a rate of about 4.5 minutes for the half mile circuit (my last go, ten days ago, was about 5.5 minutes), with breaks between each. Next time, I need to try a slightly slower pace but for longer - if I can get up to 8 circuits comfortably, that will be about 4 miles - easily enough for the R4L distance.

And I loved it. As you can see from the photos...

Lunch afterwards back at my home with Kim - she loved my home-made bread (I've been a breadmaker-owner-freak-convert since January), but says it's made her feel half a stone heavier!

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

The scales were stuck...

With all these excited posts about heartrate, time and distance, and general well-being, you might have noticed a distinct lack of commentary about weight. Well, I know I shouldn't be leaping on the scales every morning - but old habits really do die hard.

This morning saw a weight of 152 lb (10-12) - hooray! Frankly, I was starting to think that the scales were stuck in a time warp, as they'd registered 153 or 154 lb every darn morning for the last three weeks. Yes, I know muscle weighs more than fat, and yes, I could feel that clothes were looser, etc. etc. - but...

Anyhow, that means I've lost 15 lb since the middle of January (just over 11 weeks), and that I have 3 lb to go before I reach what is officially termed "normal" weight for my height and build - as opposed to "overweight". Lots of jogging along East Yorkshire beaches (our holiday after Easter) should do it!

PS: Today was my first session with a sports therapist. I don't do too badly for flexibility, given how unfit I've been for how long, but round the ankles and calves there's a serious lack of mobility. So I'm glad to have found James Witham who visits the home, as well as operating out of a few different venues (including my gym at Carrefour), and really knows his stuff. I must say, though, having had some nice gentle aromatherapy and general relaxation type massages in the past, "this is massage, James - but not as we know it..." Not the kind of treatment that you fall asleep in!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007


This is the picture of triumph. Not the most flattering photo I've ever had, but who cares?! It's taken on the webcam a few minutes after I got back from my usual circuit to Morton Hall. And I thought you'd like to see the pink beanie hat (complete with silly pom-pom, which I could see bobbing in the shadow as I ran...).

This time I half-walked, half jogged there - but I JOGGED ALL THE WAY BACK - one mile. Not a sprint - a fairly slow, heavy jog - but a jog nonetheless. Not only that, but my HR only went above 150 bpm in the last quarter-mile or so, and was only 163 when I finished; compare that to over 160 by the end of a half-mile when I went round Lenwade Lakes for the first time, just a week ago.


Breathing 1 - muscles 0

Interesting to see how different bits of the body improve at different rates.

Busy day on Monday. Worked with a computer training client in the morning; then went to the gym, followed the present set of exercises. Having discovered that I wasn't getting the best out of the Nautilus (you have to make sure you step right at the front of the belt), that now feels like slightly more hard work! (Thought it was too easy before...) And, of course, keeping right to the front of the machine means that the bazookas get in the way. I could always balance them on the bar to reduce weight, I suppose.

Then back home briefly before a service in the evening down at Morton Hall (it being the Monday of Holy Week, there's a service somewhere each evening). I wasn't dressed in running kit, so took it gently, but managed a very slow jog for about 50% of it.

What I did notice after all this was that, after my mile walk/jog down to the Hall, I was barely out of breath at all, so my CV obviously is really improving. The calf and thigh muscles, on the other hand, were screaming for mercy after a very short time ("two fitness sessions in one day? What are you doing to us?"! Sort of split personality fitness, I suppose...