Updated: Aug 27, 2019
"Run 5 or 8 k in August at the Cotswolds running festival. It’s also a weekend of camping with a festival attached and should be fun! See how the health-nut halves live and entertain themselves"
It's the Cotwolds twenty-four hour race and I am to waddle it.
Apparently, going to festivals in one's middle years is a sure symptom of a mid-life crisis. The furthest I've run in recent years is from the front door to the loo: a distance of three steps. Cripes!
On the plus, it's an excuse to go shoe shopping again as a quick inspection of my footwear reveals I own nothing sports-related.
Having discussed my impending death from running with a variety of friends, it was agreed that it was best if I start slowly. Really work up to it over time. I cannot remember the last time I ran anywhere. I have spent much time contemplating it.
So the plan of March was to buy some fancy running shoes. Ones with strong shoelaces, and grippy soles. Duly done. I contemplated putting them on for the remainder of the month.
March the first. The foolish day I decided I was going to actually retreive my shoes from the Amazon packaging. I fervently prayed they wouldn't fit. My prayers went unheard.
Thankfully, the God of Flu picked up my message and sent me to my couch. Where I contemplated more death by running. Death by running nose.
For me, I've always found the middle bit of a project the hardest. It's the bit that has no glory. Self-help books sell by the wagon-load telling us how to start a project, and how to close. No one writes about the arduous, dull, repetitive boring bit - which just happens to be the very lengthy middle bit. The tediousness of overfamiliarity of the task in hand. The lack of newness or freshness. In short, there's a dearth of material on strategies for keeping going. How to conquer flagging motivations. How not to cave when you've further to go, than you've already covered.
Especially when the gusts of wind ravage the countryside. Battering one's hatches down. Forcing one to remain firmly ensconsed on the couch.
Thus, I got through the first stage of my challenge of getting from 0 to 5k. Doing the middle-bit of 0k, turns out to be quite okay. I have contemplated running not once. I just got on and did nothing. One no-step at a time. And now to the starting bit...
There is only one way I'm going to master the art of running with an oversized arse. Either reduce the arse or run. I compromise and decide I really ought to just try walking 5k to see how it feels. I opt for a route to a small group of houses, further down the lane from where my trusty couch ordinarily resides. I figure that must be, at the very least, 5k. There's a gradual downhide gradient towards a small bridge and stream, then a small turning point for large vehicles to do a U-turn because their SatNavs, or the drivers, have failed to heed the 'Road Not Suitable For Large Vehicles sign', hidden behind a cedar tree.
I was disappointed to find that it only took me ten minutes to get there. There's no way I've marched 2.5k in ten minutes. I have a fairly good stride (powered by a large arse, you see) but even that seems a little ambitions. So I pootle onwards. I head up a small track, passing a 'Definitely Not Suitable For Any Vehicles' Sign - which I know for a fact is a lie. I've driven up it. Once in a car, and several times on Fierce Fanny.
This was no small undulating hill. Quite frankly, I cannot understand why people aren't training for Everest up this track. I decide that if I haven't died before I've got to its crest, that would be today's turning point.
At the crest of the hill, I am met by a white horse laughing at me heaving. I briefly contemplate riding it home but my legs are so jelly-like, I'm not sure I could even mount the thing. Besides, I've just mowed my lawn so I couldn't readily feed it. I'm also not sure it's in the spirit of 0-5k.
I walk home. My knee hurts. I wonder whether I've even managed 2k. I figure I'll check when I get home. I forget.
I think I've got the knack of this now - all I have to do is get out of bed, into my sportswear, and charge out the door. No prevaricating. No coffee. No 'just quickly check the news/play a quick game on my mobile/bath' or any other activities which usually hinder the progress of my day.
I walk to the stream and then tackle the Hill of Everest. The white horse does not greet me as I stagger to its plateau. I walk on an additional one minute just because I have some vague memory of a boss saying something about 'stretch goals' when he doubled my workload on a whim.
I discover there are in fact two white horses. I suspect I have altitude sickness. I head home to my sympathetic couch determined to find out how far I've actually gone. I know lots of theories about finishing projects, I decide to actually run the final 25 metres just to hurry up the process.
Absolutely no difference from Day 2. Except, I have a houseguest this week. She thinks I have finally gone mad. I am inclined to agree. She barely gets to say 'Good Morn....' before I'm out the door with my bed head to greet mother nature and stomp on tarmac.
I walked a little further down the other side of Hill Everest, a distance of one minute further still, to be greeted by two hawks having a conflab. I ran the final 50 metres home. This is not getting easier. I still have no idea how far I'm going. I am distracted from finding out by a power outtage at my home.
The tedium continues. Houseguest remains staggered by my abrupt dramatic leaving of the home - from the toilet to the front door in 2.4 seconds. Cat glad to have houseguest to remember to feed him.
I stretch myself by going a further minute down Hill Everest. I am nearly taken out by a squirrel darting across the lane with a cone in its mouth. Dangerous this country running malarky, it really is.
I run the final 100 metres. It takes another 45 minutes before I can have a comprehensible conversation with houseguest.
I was hoping to see a unicorn...
Alas, I did not go anywhere. I had a workman in to fix the power problems I have been having so I couldn't enact my 'wet the bed, run like hell' motivational knack.
On the plus, I walked it on my phone. I was a bit disgruntled to discover that it was a mere 1.3 kilometres that I covered yesterday. Day brightened when I remembered that I had walked there and back and thus I had actually marched 2.6k.
What a gloriously sunny day for a walk. So glorious, in fact, I reckon I gave myself heatstroke as I actually ran for a short bit. Discovered this hurts the boobage. Fortunately, the tarmac did not crack under the strain. Arrived home to take Houseguest out to enjoy the sunshine and local scenery. She was asleep. By the time she woke up, I was asleep. Baked a cake instead.
Day 7, and last day of Marching
Running injury 1: Have picked up a knee injury. I say, knee injury, I mean I couldn't be arsed. Marched to the kitchen and ate cake instead. Houseguest is a highly-qualified medical professional who informs me that a day of rest periodically is an essential part of training. She may have made this up.
Monday, April 1st
April Fool's Day. And the first opportunity for April showers to arrive. Alas, they did not. Walked the furthest distance yet. Managed two short running sprints, and a 100m dash home. Discover why I haven't run for most of my lifetime: it's positively loathesome.
Day 2 of this month.
Hallelujah! The April Showers have arrived. Perfect excuse to not run. I retrieve an umbrella that I haven't seen for donkeys years and decide, finally, I am going to adduce exactly how far 5k is on my route. Walked with umbrella for a long time at a steady pace. Hill Everest is becoming just about bearable. Trotted down the other side to a beautiful valley with lots of running streams and rapids and things. Turned around just before the Hill Mauna Kea got fierce.
Running injury 2: Got home to discover right bicep is frozen solid and I'd only walked 4.5k.
Day 3 (again)
No showers again today. Decide today is the day I am FINALLY going to adduce exactly how far 5k is on my route by actually checking the route on my phone before I walk it. Am gutted to discover, not only I am going to actually have to stomp up Hill Mauna Kea, but also walk along to an intersection of lots of country roads. The signposts provide a handy landmark for turning around. Turned around at exactly 30mins. Got home at exactly 1:00. Never google how fast it should take a woman of 44 to do 5k...it is heartbreaking.
Running injury 3: Picked up an ear worm on the ascent of Hill Mauna Kea.
The challenge for today is to walk 5k in less than 1 hour, using the 'I've wet the bed, must dash!' approach to getting out of the house once again. Still heaving with rain. Stomped up Hill Everest, Heaved up Hill Mauna Kea, waddled around the signpost. Spotted a heron and a hawk studiously ignorning one another. I studiously ignored them - 'cos I'm a woman with a mission.
Mission accomplished: 58 mins!
Challenge for the day: Walk 5k in less than one hour.
Mission failed: rested legs instead.
Decided yesterday's mission was so successful, I must repeat it. Mission accomplished!
"Fancy a 12k walk with me?" my friend asked. "With a coffee break at the half way point?" , prompted a movement in my face from a frown to a smile. Turns out it was 8k not 12k. It took 2 hours, and according to her app, we burnt 700 calories. Glad I had a large lunch with my coffee. Also learnt it is impossible to hold a conversation when walking uphill.
Discovered I do not walk down hill correctly, according to my friend, I should not do this on tippee-toes, but the heal of my foot. Turns out this is far less painful on one's knees....
Running injuries: Sore calves!
Aim for the day: Walk 5k in less than one hour!
Had to get up at silly o'clock to get my 'run' in today. Perhaps I need a cold frosty morning to keep me at a faster pace.
Mission failed! 1 hour, 2 mins. No idea why it took 4 mins longer when there was no rain, and no need for a brolly, and I can walk downhill on my heels far faster than on my toes. Ate a massive bar of chocolate to cheer myself up.
Aim for the day: Walk 5k in less than one hour!
Meant to get up at silly o'clock. Decided bed was better so walked late afternoon when it was gloriously warm and sunny. Despite, gasping out a conversation with the gynaecologists ringing to say they hadn't got to the bottom of Fierce Fanny's latest issues, I managed to accomplish my mission: 58 mins.
Aim for the day: Walk 5k in less than 58m
This would mean running. At least bit of it. Detested every step of it but managed three sprints. No longer distracted by wildlife. No time to talk to the sheep. Woman in a hurry. And no one rings at 6am in the morning either.
Mission Failed: 58 mins!
Aim for the day: Walk 5k in less than 58m (attempt 2)
Nearly quit half way up Hill Everest as legs were hopping mad - only lazier and more painful. Glad I didn't as I saw two Monkjack - one of which appears to have eaten all the heads off my tulips, 2 giant hares and a pine marten. I'll say that again: a pine marten.
Here is a picture of a pine marten I didn't see...
Suffice to say, the pine marten ran faster than I did. Came home and mowed my lawn #hardcore
Mission Failed: 1h, 2mins.
Days 12 & 13
Aim for the day: Walk 5k in less than 58m (attempts 3 & 4)
Mission Failed: 0h, 0 mins!
Aim for the day: Walk 5k in less than 58m (attempt 5)
Lovely, cold, crisp, foggy fine day for walking. Saw 1 heron, 2 squirrels, 1 hawk and no pine martens. Said hello to lots of smiling sheep. They laughed back at me.
Mission Failed: 59mins!
Aim for the day: Walk/Run 5k in less than 58m (attempt 6)
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: 56mins. Saw bugger all because I was so busy hyper-ventilating.
Aim for the day: Walk/Run 5k in less than 56m (attempt 1)
Concentrated on the tarmac, the potholes and trying not to wee myself. Succeeded on all three counts. Delayed by a very friendly border collie crossed with something his mother's mother would not have approved of. Came home and collapsed on the sofa. Pulled right buttock muscle on landing.
Sportng injuries: Frozen right buttock.
Mission Failed: 56 mins.
Aim for the day: Walk/Run 5k in less than 56m (attempt 2)
Due to walking in circles - as right buttock remains sore, decided my linear training route would not suffice. Soaked in the bath with some bath stuff which promised to 'enliven and re-invigorate'. Fell asleep, woke up when bath water cold.
Sporting injuries: Very frozen right buttock
Mission Failed: 0mins.
Aim for the day: Walk/Run 5k in less than 56m (attempt 3)
Overtaken by two joggers - proper ones. One friendly, one too knackered to say hi. Got to the halfway point in 27 mins - really thought today was the day I'd do sub 56 as the second half is more downhill than up.
Nope. Mission Failed: 56mins.
Day of rest. I have been told that I should 'up my magnesium'. I enquired how one could do that to be told eat more green leafy vegetables and dark chocolate. Opted for the chocolate. Figured that milk chocolate started off dark at one point.
Aim for the day: Walk/Run 5k in less than 56m (attempt 4)
Disaaaster - pulled a muscle half-way up Hill Mauna Kea with a proper 'twang!'. Figured it was my hamstring. Then remembered I am a life-long vegetarian. I probably don't have one. Hobbled my way through the rest of the course.
Mission Failed: 1 hour exactly. Proving, if nothing else I have previously been running for four minutes collectively.
Sporting Injuries: Torn Quorn Hamstring.
Days 21 & 22
Limped to the kitchen and back many times. Upped my magnesium with more chocolate. Ate a lettuce sandwich out of guilt. Hoping to discover that coffee has magnesium in it too.
Aim for the day: Walk as much of the course as I can muster.
Bizarrely, it has only taken a month for me to get hooked on this walking malarky. I have properly missed my walks the last two days, despite having to convalesce whilst basking in my garden during the wonderfully warm Easter break.
Delighted to have made the full the course - especially as I meandered it and stopped to take in the bluebells streaming down the sides of the road. Leg mildly tender but manageable. Clearly the chocolate has done the trick.
Aim for the day: Walk the full course gently
Chatted to some cows. Some sheep. A pheasant and a squirrel. Just call me Mrs Doolittle.
Discovered a detour: a bridleway. Walked a shorter distance in a longer time. Note to self: going off the beaten track is not good for one's running times.
Overtaken by a white hourse - not surprisngly as it was trotting. And a squirrel.
Sporting injuries: Bruised ego.
Excuses not to go out training: it's raining. It's windy. I can't be arsed. I've eaten too much porridge. The cat will miss me.
Delighted to be contacted by FatGirlRunning, who has been inspired to start training too.
Thank God it's April!
Aim for the day: Run/Walk 5k in less than 1 hour.
Mission Accomplished: 56 mins! Am delighted to have done it. Less delighted to have had to run some of the distance. I think it being cool and overcast helped. Envied two hourses sleeping in a field.
Aim for the day: Run/Walk 5k in 55 mins.
At the beginning of the month, I did not know how far 5k was. Now I know, I have learnt that, without injury, I can do it in 58 mins. In the courses of this month, I have realised that, without injury, I can start introducing the iconic sporting phenomena of 'personal bests'. Thus for the last two days of April, I shall strive for a personal best...
of 55 mins.
That way, I reckon, that when I finally run in August, I could,and again an opportunity to show off my newly-acquired sporting lexicon, achieve 5k in sub-50. This assumes I can shave off 3 minutes per month. So that is the challenge for April: Achieve 55 mins.
On Sunday, I watched Brigid Kosgei become the youngest woman winner in the British capital of the London Marathon, competing against one of tne of the strongest fields ever. Her victory celebration dance couldn't have been understated if it tried.
My homecoming after a 55 minute 5k Walk/Run, however, was an exuberant affair. I'm glad there were no cameras. Mind you, I wouldn't make 26 miles!
Still, I had sufficent energy to get annoyed at this headline! Why no mention of Brigid Kosgei's accomplishment?
Sporting Injury: Cat limping from over-exuberant scratching of scatching post.
Aim for the day: 55 mins
Mission Accomplished! The day was appealing misty and cool - perfect for a slog around the 5k route. Threw on yesterday's jumper and yesterday's tracksuit bottoms. Sun broke out just as I peaked Hill Everest. By Hill Mauna Kea, it was warm. The descent was hot. Homecoming was boiling. Drank tea to cool down, followed by a scalding bath.
So Stats and facts for April:
Walked 5k for 19 days out of 30. Not sure exactly have far each walk is - because I'm using Strava - and Strava can't make its mind up whether I'm walking 3.26 miles, 3.88 miles or 4.16 miles. Strava also claims that I stop walking for chunks of time when I don't! However, despite what Strava says, following the same route each day, I have achieved a time of 55mins.
Aim for this month: 52 mins
Aim fo this week: 54 mins
Decided I need to do more running, rather than walking. I need to progress, from Ralking to Wunning this month. So today's agenda was to convert Ralking into Rulking.
Gutted to get home in 55 mins.
Righto - new month, new philosophy. Have decided to up my running - by doing less staggering, and more short stints of combining walking and running. A friend said to do 1 minute off/on of running. I felt 1 minute of continuous running was a bit ambitious. It would also require me to have a timer. Way too much palaver.
So I compromised and decided to do 30 steps walking/30 steps running. This, I felt, would be sufficent for my brain to cope, as well as my tender tendons. Except when shlepping up Hill Everest and Hill Mauna Kea - I'd continue with my staggering approach.
Hadn't banked on squirrels entering the equation. Spotted a dead baby squirrel on my route. It was just as dead on the route back. Except it wasn't. So I brought it home. It's now half dead in my shed - with a bowl of salad nuts that a friend gave me to spice up my salads. On discovering they sabotage a good salad, they have remained in the back of my food cupboard for yonks. Baby Squirrel isn't overly fond of them either. Or too half dead to eat, which is how I'd expected to arrive home today.
As it was I had to walk cradling a baby squirrel - and thus got home in 1h, 4mins.
Rest day. Spent day caring for Whizz the squirrel - who doesn't move very much at all. And laundering all my sweaty training gear. And binge watching Line of Duty. Had a moment of health kickiness and so made fruit and nut flapjacks. Ate them all in one sitting.
Rest Day and day of Whizz's funeral. Alas, he wasn't moving at all in the morning so neither did I for the rest of the day.
Aim for the day 1: 54 mins
Aim for the day 2: Avoid collecting squirrels
Rested and refreshed, I figured that both were accomplishable. I got to the mid-point in my fastest time yet - and then accidentally found myself comfortable with running. No aches, no pains, no panting, no wobbly ankles. It was, dare I say, actually really quite enjoyable. It must have lasted for a good two minutes. Who knew that running could be bearable, nay, actually really quite effortless?
Mission failed! 55 minutes, 7 seconds.
Aim for the day: 54 mins
Pah! 55 minutes, 15 seconds. And no enjoyable running moments. Still cannot fathom how I failed the day before.
Aim for the day: 54 mins
Pah! Pah! 55 minutes, 17 seconds. And no enjoyable running moments. Still cannot fathom how I failed two days ago. Still very grumpy about it. Especially as this has been a target for a week now. I'm starting to think the only way I'll break 55 mins is if I start my stopwatch one minute later.
Woke up to it absolutely hacking it down. Open door to let cat out. Both of us looked at each other and thought 'Screw that!'
Went for an afternoon stroll in the opposite direction. Discovered it was much flatter and it took me 1 hr to walk 5.2k. Only the first and last bit is undulating. It is very tempting to change route.
Went to run, discovered very painful left knee. Glad I did as the heavens opened 30 mins later. Thankful for sporting injuries!
Thankful for sporting injuries!
Exceptionally grateful for sporting injuries.
Decided to gently walk Route 2. Improved time by 3 mins. (57 mins). There are many redeeming features about route 2. Firstly, the first bit is downhill. Secondly, I get Internet access the whole way - so I can listen to something on the web if I want to - I'm currently subscribing to Audiobooks. Thirdly three-quarters of it is flat. Fourthly, if cars come then there's amble place to walk alongside the road. And fifthly, I think my running will be over more quickly if I take this route.
Decide to stick with Route 1 for no fathomable reason other than I'm an idiot.
Aim for the day: 54 mins (Route 1)
Ah! I opt for the slog of hills Mauna Kea and Everest. It feels good to be back in the swing of things. Knees seemingly recovered. Discovered something about Strava I did not know before: it has a feature that shows how much movement time one conducts. Yet, I Ralked all the way - not pausing for a second. Still Strava was adamant I had stopped for 1m, 15 seconds. I can only conclude that my running speed is undetectable.
I also found out how one runs effortlessly: simply run down a gradually descending hill! It also helps to have something to ponder aside from the usual self-absorbed notions of 'just how ridiculous do I look running?' Or 'I wonder if I left the stove on all night'. Or 'What was that rustling in the hedge?'
Today's ponderence was 'How on earth do hedgehogs have sex?'
Mission accomplished: 54mins!
Too busy to run!
Too lazy to run!
Aim for the day: 53mins
Again using the 'must dash, have a jog to complete' approach to leaving the house first thing - I got myself going in record time. 'Twas a hot day so I wasn't expecting great things. At the half way point, I realised I had dashed out so quickly, I had put on my running shirt inside out. Must have helped me aerodynamically as I completedly missed out minute 53, and found myself home in 52 minutes.
May's objective complete!
MayDay17 and 18.
Hello! May's objective is complete. Pottered around the garden instead. Discovered I have more overall stamina for that too.
My challenger for this sadventure asked if I fancied a walk. I did! I found a little 7.5mile round route and off we marched, following a little pause to start our Strava apps. I walked 13.4k in 2h, 40. My companion, who never once left my side, walked 10.34k in 3h, 8 minutes. Suffice to say, we walked: How far, and for how long, is anyone's guess. Moreover, it seems that I was pissed on the trek back from Whichford...must have been strong coffee!
Mission for the day: 51 minutes
Shirt on correctly. Ran first 1k! Delighted with myself. Staggered up hill Everest. Ran to hill Mauna kea. Staggered up that too. Ralked to the mid point. Checked the time. Got to half way point to find, despite my strenuous efforts, I'd no idea how quickly I'd gone.
Strava had failed to fecking walk too. Sulked back down to Mauna Kea. Stomped down the hill. Bimbled up to the crest of Everest. Dawdled down that. Ambled up the hill to my road. Came home and cursed: Strava now says my trek took 1h, 4mins. I've time-travelled to April's targets.
Mind you, stopping to watch a baby fox duck in and out of its den probably didn't help.
Still sulking. I capitulated in the afternoon by going for a walk along route 2 - the one I carefully measured as being just a tad over 5k. Not true said #Strava, who reckons it is 6.94km. Still, I did it in my fastest bimbling time yet: 56mins.
Decided to sulk some more.
Mission for the day: 51 minutes
Today is the day I decided to graduate from walking/ralking to walking/rulking. I knew I'd be pulling a good time as soon as I got downstairs and realised I had my T-shirt on back to front although not inside out. (I'm saving that superstition for when I want to get into my forties) And so I raulked all the way to hill Everest, tthen across to hill Mauna Kea. Then to the signpost - where I clocked 25 mins. I knew if I legged it, I could just about meet my target. So I did. It took a good three-quarters of an hour before I could make sensible conversation, let alone do the happy dance.
Mission smashed to smithereens: 50mins, 44seconds!
MayDay24 and 25
Very imperative rest days. Also known as 'CBA days'.
Aim for the day: 49 minutes
BREAKING NEWS: I have, for the first time in my life, worn out a pair of trainers. I can now feel the ground beneath my feet. It is not pleasant.
Mission failed: 52 minutes.
Decided an evening walk was in order, rather than a run Mostly because I got out of bed late, and had to be somewhere for lunch. And also because my spare pair of running shoes are not suitable for running. New quickest time though: Route 2 in 55 minutes.
A friend of mine thought my arse was definitely changing shape. Personally, I think that the fat stores had just settled into my jeans in a different formation.
Aim for the day: 49mins
Despite rulking most of the way, it seems my running speed and striding speed are the wrong way round. Stuck on 52 minutes: which was the end of May's target anyways. Also picked up another ear worm.
What I have noticed though, is my running injuries are migrating. When I first started this malarky it was my ankles that hurt. Then my knees took it in turns to announce thair suffrage. Both are now fine. My right hip, however, is now the place where the pain is centred. So I was somewhat surprised to relax in the bath this morning, post-run, and crick my neck.
'Muscle memory' she said, 'you need to build up muscle memory'. I hadn't the foggiest what she was talking about but my cluelessness returned as I arrived at the base of Hill Everest and my muscles informed my brain that they really couldn't do this today.
The minute I spent trying to talk myself out of it or up it, scuppered any chance of going for a personal best. Instead I negotiated with myself and came up with a satisfactory outcome: I'd walk as much as I needed, and run uphill. And with that I ralked up hill Everest, walked to hill Mauna Kea and then staggered up that. Not the full way, mind. But all the same, if I'm ever to conquer 52 minutes again, then running uphill will need to be mastered. My muscles may have post-traumatic stress disorder now but still managed a respectable 52 minutes.
Strava automatically called my trip out 'Morning Walk', which I found a bit insulting.
For some reason, I thought it was the 1st of June. And knew I was going to have to start pushing on again to start working on reducing my time by another 3 minutes. So I was relieved to get home in 52 minutes and realise it was still May's target after all when it added today's trip to this month.
The bad news is that I dropped my phone in the bath again. I've drowned Strava!