Slow and steady

Moving slowly through the UK countryside


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A good start

First complete week of my January challenge to do at least three runs a week.  In December I ran a mile only half a dozen times, and haven’t done 5k since the end of October.

Saturday – mile run: 15 min 36 s

Monday – mile run 15 min 17 s

Wednesday – 15 minutes stair circuits (very, very tedious, but avoided the cold, dark and wet) – 40 times up and down, including the landing

Friday – 15 minutes stair circuits

Today (Sat) – two consecutive mile runs in glorious sunshine (took off fleece, coat, hat, gloves and binoculars after first mile): first mile 17 min 7 s, second mile 13 min 58 s, and feeling good at the end of it.  Very pleased with myself.  Now wondering whether the Garmin just malfunctioned, but it did feel a lot faster, and curiously, easier.  Beginning to remember that I do actually enjoy running once I’ve settled into it.

I ran in a city park, and it was lovely watching children learning to use their Christmas presents – several very wobbly in-line skaters, and new bicycles and scooters.  Only a handful of runners, but lots of walkers, which made me feel as though my slow running was really speedy.  🙂  I also enjoyed the sight of a wedding party having photos taken (men in white suits – very jazzy), and then seeing the hugely stretched limo in the car park.

There was a lovely technicolour sunset on the way home.  I took quite a few pictures with my phone, but overloaded it, with the result that it now won’t let me download them.  This one has arrived here via being sent to my daughter’s phone, and she then emailed it back to me.  My phone won’t let me email.  However, I do now have the internet working – a couple of hours ago that was refusing to cooperate too, and I was getting seriously fed up with technology.

Sunset

Sunset

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Get outside

I think this pretty much sums up my running. I ran a mile again today, and then a little bit more, just to prove to myself that I don’t need to stop at a mile. So far this month I’ve run 16 times, which is way better than the three runs in July. Even if most of those runs were only a mile – and ‘only’ is the funny bit, I suppose. For 53 years of my life, I didn’t think I could run a hundred yards.


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Chipping away at the mile pace

10:55 min/mile today, only the second time I’ve managed under 11 minutes for a complete mile, and a better pace than three of the four 4-min runs yesterday.   Cooler weather, and a breeze, definitely helps.

This afternoon we visited Compton Verney, an art museum in a Capability Brown landscape just down the road from us.  I enjoyed the Turner and Constable exhibition focused on sketching from nature, and we all enjoyed climbing up in the ‘Empty Nest’ sculpture to see the view over the lake.

Empty Nest tree sculpture

Empty Nest tree sculpture

We had fun making shops to add to the public-participation display – a response to ‘The Narb’ (one of the several pictures that show at this link).

Spar

Spar

Street of cardboard shops

Public participation art – a street of shops – good fun, not sure how much art is involved though! Quite a few quirky ones including The Body Shop full of skeletons, and The Inconvenience Store stuck as high up the wall as they could reach.


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Four lots of four minutes

Last night, I went to collect my younger daughter from the station, and while I was waiting, I did a bit of jogging, including a couple of bursts of speed (for all of thirty seconds or so).  I really rather enjoyed the fast bits, even though my shins ached afterwards – served me right for not warming up enough.

One of my online running buddies, Oldgirl, has joined a running group, Jog Scotland, and they’ve been doing training sessions of 4 minute runs with 2 minutes recovery.  Sounded like I could manage that, and it would make a change for running a mile.  Another NHS couch to 5k ‘graduate’, Aftabs, has also been using intervals to build pace, and walking breaks have recently been mentioned on  Fit for a Year but it isn’t something I’ve really tried before.  So, time to try something new.

It was raining this morning – a good opportunity for some faster running.  It’s been a while since I’ve run in the rain – it was lovely.  Even when a car went through a puddle and splashed me – I just laughed!

I did a longer warm up walk than usual, and then off I went, really running as fast as I could, heart-rate going up higher than usual.  Four minutes seemed longer than I’d expected it to!  The first run was along pavements, with a couple of blind corners, so I was happy with the 11:37 min/mile pace.

Two minutes walking did feel just about enough to bring my heart rate back down to a comfortable level, then off I went again.  I did three more lots of four minutes –  10:35 , 11:05 and 11:27 min/mile (the mile I ran yesterday took 12:16).  I nearly didn’t do the last one, as I had to turn round and head back away from home again, and I’d nearly had enough, but I’m glad I did, as it wasn’t as slow as I’d thought it would be.

pace and heart-rate

Pace and heart-rate on the second 4 minute run

It’s reassuring to see my heart rate recovery during the walks.

Heart rate recovery

Heart rate recovery during walk

This seems a good way to edge up the pace that my legs expect to run at – in total I ran 1.45 miles, but faster than when I run a mile.

Well, after all that, I decided I deserved a reward – a Mrs Crimble’s jam coconut ring.  Yummy.

Oh. just checked the packet:  Jam coconut ring – 723 calories.  My running and walking (according to Garmin) – 243 calories.  Hey ho – I’d better not have too much lunch!


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Jellyfish

When we were on holiday last week, we saw a jellyfish in the harbour at Wells-next-the-sea. The photo isn’t the sharpest by far (!), but it was fascinating watching it move in the water, and it prompted me to write a haiku.

Jellyfish

Jellyfish

Jellyfish pulsates
As though breathing. Ghostly grey
Bellows of the sea.

I was reminded of it by the wonderful jellyfish pictures on Amy’s blog, here.

Fitness-wise – I ran a mile again today, and that makes four consecutive days of exercise (run, yoga, run, run). I really want to keep it up – it makes me feel good.


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The inner gazelle

Now I do realise that these aren’t gazelles, but it’s the nearest photo I’ve got – taken on holiday in Norfolk last week.

Fallow deer

Fallow deer at Holkham Hall, Norfolk

Well, yesterday on the NHS Couch to 5k site there was a brief discussion about running like gazelles or hippos. And on Red Hen’s blog she was debating whether she felt like a supermodel when she was running – and on how long it takes before a run stops feeling ghastly.

So, in the interests of research, I went out BEFORE BREAKFAST to run. Partly because I’d told three people online that I was going to run today, and I wanted to make sure I actually did it. I think I’ve only once gone out before breakfast to run before – my hubby was a bit worried about me.

I ran 5k – woo hoo! My last 5k was way back at the end of June (Race for Life), and I’ve only run more than a mile a couple of times since then, so I wasn’t sure I’d manage to keep going. But I did, and at not too bad a time either, for me, 43 min 20 s. I nearly stopped after 30 minutes, but it was a downhill bit then, so decided to keep going and imagine my inner gazelle/supermodel. Nice feeling, going faster and with heart rate a bit lower, sailing along. Mmmmmmm!

It then goes up a steep bit of hill, which felt much more hippoish, but I managed to speed up again for the last kilometer, which is flat. I wore my heart-rate monitor, just to see what it was like after several weeks of not much running, and that last bit was pushing it a bit. Anything over 160 tends to feel a bit uncomfortable. I don’t need a HRM to tell me when it’s got that high, as I can feel it – it’s just interesting to look at the record afterwards.

Heart rate graph

5k run heart rate

I was also keeping an eye on the time, to see how things were feeling as I went along, following up the discussion on Red Hen’s blog. At 2 minutes in, it was horrible (though surprising to see that I was actually going at my fastest then, as I thought I’d started off slowly). Still horrible at 5 and 7 minutes. A bit better by 10, but, ugh, 11 minutes and I wanted to stop – but probably that’s because it was a bit uphill then and in full sun, and the slight breeze had dropped. It’s also where my heart-rate jumped up from 140 to 160 in less than a minute – maybe it was an adrenalin surge at the thought of keeping going! After that it was pretty much ok, other than feeling pretty drained for that last km.

Maybe one day I’ll find out if it gets even easier after the first 5 miles? 😀


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I can still run – and the Big Butterfly Count

I have just been looking at my Garmin (running watch) stats. In May I ran for 30 minutes or more on six occasions, during the 5×50 challenge. In June, just three times. July was even worse, as I only did one longer run, though it was for 45 minutes.

And so far in August, I hadn’t run at all. So off I went this evening, once it had cooled down, and ran for 30 minutes. The first 5-10 were tough as ever, but I knew they would be, so that was ok. Then I kept using the ‘just to the next…’ trick to keep me going. I was going to stop at 20 minutes, but then decided that would be a bit lame, as I could run for 30 all the way back in February when I graduated from the NHS couch to 5k programme.

I even managed to speed up a bit at various points, and although I’m still slow, 13:51 min/mile, or just over 4 mph, considering I’m out of practice, I was quite pleased.

But I really mustn’t let it be two weeks before I go out again. 🙂

Other than running, today I’ve watched butterflies, for the Big Butterfly Count and was really pleased to see my new buddleia being well-used by a Peacock, some Large Whites, Small Whites, and Green-veined Whites. There were also several Gatekeepers on the marjoram and on the apple cordons, and one gorgeous Common Blue male on the lavender.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly feeding on buddleia

Common Blue male

Common Blue male on lavender

Sadly, I also had to bury a young hedgehog. 😦 We found it munching a slug on the day we got back from our holidays, and now, just two days later I found it dead and covered with flies. It’s about ten years since we’ve seen a hedgehog in the garden, so it’s very disappointing. Perhaps the fact that it was out in daylight when we saw it first was an indication that it wasn’t well. I’ll still send in a record that we saw it though, through irecord, as the county biological records office welcomes all hedgehog sightings, alive or dead – and other wildlife too.

On a more cheerful note, we watched a female Field Grasshopper laying eggs in the dry earth in the meadow part of our garden. She took ages, maybe twenty minutes or more, and then when she’d finished, she used her hind leg to scrape loose earth over the hole, very daintily!  She appears to be a unicorn grasshopper – one antenna is missing.

Field Grasshopper laying eggs

Female Field Grasshopper, Chorthippus brunneus, laying eggs