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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

don't stop me now... feeling inspired

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

I know, I know, a book review wasn't exactly what you were expecting to find over on this blog, but bear with me on this one...

This book, Don't Stop Me Now, has changed my life, ok, that's a huge exaggeration, but this book has motivated me to get my ass running like nothing I ever thought could.  If you're even vaguely interested in running, or thinking about starting to have a go at running or need some motivation to keep going, then you must read this.  Yes, I know you think I've gone insane but it's true, I'd offer to lend you it, but I kinda want to read it again.

I bought this book for the Mr for Christmas, and after a few weeks of him reading small snippets aloud, or referring to sections he'd just read, I asked him to tell me no more as from the bits I'd heard from him, I actually wanted to read it myself. 

This is a book by Vassos Alexander, no I hadn't heard of him either, if you're a sports fan, or have a partner who is, it's likely that they will know the name, Vassos is apparently one of the best known sports broadcasters there is, and an ultra runner to boot.  However he hasn't always been an ultra runner, in fact, he hasn't always been a runner, he started late in life, I think in his mid-30's (don't quote me on that!) and only because his waist band was expanding and he wanted to continue his regular beer drinking down the pub.

The book follows his journey from his first ever run, five minutes down the road from his house and collapsing in a heap, to him completing an iron man (2.4mile swim, 112 mile cycle finished off with a marathon, 26.2 miles if you're wondering).  It's split into 26 chapters, each chapter starts with an almost diary-like entry, written whilst he's running each mile of his iron man marathon, it's a difficult read as you can feel the pain and distress he's putting his body through every step of the way, and you find yourself urging him to stop, and yet praying he'll finish it. 

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander
I know, I hate myself for this bedside table reading too...

Each chapter then goes on to chronicle more of his running life, and ends with stories about how other (usually very well known) runners got into the sport, think Paula Radcliffe, Joss Naylor (my fellow Cumbrian readers should know who he is) Nell McAndrew and Vassos' own children to name a few, and it is completely fascinating.  As many of these are Olympians, they generally knew from a young age they'd be runners, but the odd one didn't start till they were older and yet have still gone on to achieve incredible feats.

But as a non-runner, it's hard to get motivated by those 'natural' types, I just assume it comes easy to them and so know very much from my own experience that that will never be me.  That's what I love about Vassos, he hasn't always found running easy or pleasurable, he talks about his aches and pains, the inner battle he has with himself to give up often half-way through runs, and those occasions when you go out for a run, and you're just not feeling it.  

My husband is training for a marathon, he's a natural runner, he's always enjoyed it, and often uses it as a stress reliever, and he's fast! I don't think he really understands why I find it so difficult, why I so often just give up and walk home, and why I don't seem to be getting any further or faster.  I'm not criticising him for this, he's just made to run, me not so much.  

However Vassos gets it, but he also talks about how much he loves it, how he finds it the best way to discover a new city when he's travelling, how he always just keeps telling himself to keep going when he doesn't really want to anymore, and how he completes several long distance runs in all the wrong kit because he's forgotten to bring most of it with him.  He doesn't follow a crazy diet, he hasn't set himself ridiculous training plans and he does most things he shouldn't the night before/hour before a big race...think drinking beer, eating too much (or too little) and wearing the wrong trainers. 

It's completely fascinating, and has really inspired me to get back out there and stick with it, I'm probably back down to 5k distances now, but I'd like to get that  up to 10k again, and maybe regularly managing 10k, not once every 6 months which seems to be how it goes.  I want to go to the local Park Run and try to beat my previous times, and I want to go out for a jog to just enjoy and appreciate the landscape.

So, thank you Vassos for inspiration, and maybe one day I'll be recounting my own Iron Man tales.... yeah, I went too far, maybe a half marathon, maybe one day? 

Don't Stop Me Now - Vassos Alexander

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

a reality check

nutella milkshake

I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s been here.  I’ve had a couple of weeks of over indulgence, it’s that time of the month, my jeans are definitely tighter than they were, and I’m feeling bloated and uncomfortable.  While I’d like to blame the period, I know that the reality is, I’ve been trying to convince myself that the workouts I’ve been doing, are enabling me to eat whatever I want.  And while getting through a 300 calorie burn circuits class does mean that I can probably go easier on the diet than I have done in the past, it doesn’t mean that a burger and chips, with a nutella milkshake on the side is going to keep me trim.  It’s time to accept that I’m about 5 or 6 pounds heavier than I’d like to be, and myfitnesspal is going to have to come back out from the archives because really, I’d quite like my jeans to be comfortable again, and that muffin top well and truly tucked back in.

For most of my life, I've kept my weight reasonably steady (let's not talk about the uni years) by dieting, I've never done prescribed diets like Weight Watchers or Slimming World, given up carbs, or survived on juices.  I've just eaten better, snacking on fruit instead of biscuits, adding extra veg to my plate and giving up the coco pops for yoghurt and granola, and it's always done the trick, I'd lose a few pounds, wear my belt a hole tighter and get on with my day, exercise never came into the equation.

burger and chips

Fast forward 30 years and now I'm that person who works out 5 times a week, goes for a jog on weekends away and gets a bit twitchy if the weather is threatening to rain on my planned long jaunt out, it's suddenly a bit more depressing when you realise you need to shift half a stone.  

So, here we are, soup is back on the lunch menu, my desk at work is piled with fruit, and the biscuit tin is firmly sealed.  But, it's not all bad, I figured with the amount of exercise I do, I can still have weekends off, and no doubt my epic cheat days will be back but when Monday's to Friday's are full of the good stuff, and my legs are aching from a quick jog, I think I deserve that burger and chips, and nutella milkshake on the side...

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

a scenic selfie and soggy feet

Lords Seat Walk
(Gotta get that selfie!)

Lords Seat Walk

We've been at it again, a quiet Saturday with pretty good weather on the forecast called for another venture to the lakes to burn a few calories.  

I'd like to say this time we were better prepared, and in one sense we were, with a guidebook that used to be my dad's (Easy Rambles around Keswick & Borrowdale if you're interested), with excellent step by step directions meant there was no chance of us getting lost this time, but donned once again in my fabric trainers, a 2km stretch of soggy bog land wasn't the most pleasant of experiences.  

We picked a relatively easy route, just under 5 miles but with impressive views once you've scaled above the Forestry Commission land, too bad we didn't pay more attention to the blurb before we set off as then we perhaps would have been more prepared for the 'boggy ground between Barf and Lord's Seat', ah well, you live and learn hey?

Lords Seat Walk

Lords Seat Walk

sweet potato, chilli and lime soup

Parking up at Whinlatter Visitor Centre, we filled our tums with sweet potato, chilli and lime soup, and a great chunk of crusty bread.  This was genuinely one of the best soups I've ever had (sorry Glorious Soups, I still love you though!) and plan to attempt to recreate it at home some time soon.  With an emergency packet of hula hoops in my bag, a cartoon of apple juice, and a handful of maoams (turns out I snack like a 5 year old) we were ready to rock.

A relatively gentle ascent, although the heart rate was definitely racing at certain points, with good views and a history lesson or two along the can see the spot that Lord Barf fell to his death after a drunken wager led him to attempt to scale the fell on his horse the next day, it was a nice walk that I'd recommend if you want something that isn't too hard going.  However, the stretch between the two fells isn't the most enjoyable, if there is a path, it was under a foot of mud when we walked through it, and however hard you try, it's impossible not to sink! 

But by the point, you've done all the hardwork and it's a simple path back downhill, so with cold and wet toes, we rushed back to the car, turned the heating up high and patted ourselves on the back for not getting lost.  Given that it's only February March, I think we're doing pretty well to have got two walks in so far this year, but before the next, I think it might be time to admit that a pair of walking boots are definitely required, although with Summer just around the corner, then I'll be getting out the flip flops!

Lords Seat Walk

Lords Seat Walk

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