The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Days 606 to 617 – The Best Laid Plans 29 September 2009

Back from Cornwall, back at my desk, and back to normality (with something of a bump).  We had an amazing holiday, with wonderful weather and all the fresh air a townie like me could possibly hope for.  I was so inspired by how fantastic it all was that I even went swimming in the sea (without a wetsuit!) and boy, did that blow the cobwebs away.

However, as predicted in my previous post, we ate, and drank, and ate, and drank, then ate and drank some more.  I realised pretty early on that any hope of sticking to a low-fat, low-carb regime was going to be in vain.  Even if I had managed to avoid the cream teas, cornish pasties and heaven knows what else, the cider and red wine would’ve put paid to my efforts.  Once again I was reminded of how straightforward life is when you’re on lighter life … total abstinence removes the need to make decisions about food.  You simply don’t eat it.  Clearly that comes with its own challenges, but there are no grey areas.

What I did do was stick religiously to my training.  I ran 2 very bramble-y and nettle-y miles from our cottage to the beach and back again on Saturday (which included an unintentional detour into a scarily boggy estuary … I don’t recommend running on quicksand, ladies and gents).  It was the first morning of the holiday, and I knew that I really had to get out there before the devil on my shoulder started muttering about not bothering.  It was definitely worth it.  Knowing I needed to do a long run on Sunday I plotted a big loop from our cottage (in Crantock) that looked like it would be a decent length.  It turned out to be just shy of 6 miles (via Cubert, for those of you who know the area) and was fabulous … despite the horrendous hills!  It really brought home to me just how flat London is (well, South London certainly) and, even though my poor old knees probably don’t agree, it was good for me to do it.  There was a long, steep hill on the last 2 mile stretch and I was sorely tempted to slow to a walk, but then encountered a family walking their dogs and made it to the top of the hill on pride alone.  Besides, a pink-faced, sweaty runner in the full kit complete with a high-visibility jacket is just about acceptable … but if you’re walking?!  I think not.

I did half of the same run on Tuesday, and repeated the whole thing on Thursday.  I reckon I achieved 16 miles in total while I was there and, given the amount of red wine swilling around my system, that was no mean feat.  Conveniently my friends had their 18 month old son with them, so I had an early morning alarm call to help get me out of bed while pretty much everyone else slept in.

On Sunday I managed to squeeze in a 4.5 mile effort from Crystal Palace to Clapham via Brockwell Park (always a pleasure) which went some of the way towards compensating for the delicious lunch that our friends cooked for us afterwards.  One of them has run the London marathon twice already, is hoping to secure a place for the third time, and has quite an infectious passion for running.  I need to spend time with more people like her over the coming months … my friends are already muttering darkly about a change in the weather and I know it’s going to get harder to go out as the nights draw in.

Tonight I’m running home.  I’ve not done that since I injured my back running home in May.  Even though I’ve completed much longer distances than that since then, I need to shake the superstition that I’ll hurt myself again on this route.  Stupid, I know, but here’s hoping that nothing goes ‘ping’ this time!


Days 592 to 605 – Eat Clean, Run Hard 17 September 2009

That’s going to be my motto for the next week.  I’m off to Cornwall with some friends for a week of relaxation by the sea.  I’ve been counting the days until this holiday for about three months, no lie!

The people I’m going with are some of my oldest friends and it’s fair to say that we’re known for partying quite hard (even though none of us are spring chickens any more).  This week could be an opportunity to sit on my arse, drink more red wine than most people consume in a month and feed myself with comfort food.  You know how it is … half an hour walking by the sea and suddenly you convince yourself that you have the appetite of ten men and start ordering extra portions of chips.  That would be disastrous.

I also have zero excuse for not keeping up the miles (I’m up to a comfortable 6 miles at the moment).  If I can run around London, breathing delicious lungfuls of exhaust fumes and other people’s fag smoke, then I can sure as hell run in the beautiful surroundings of the Cornish coast.  In fact, it will be a pleasure.  The only drawback will be dragging myself out of bed while everyone around me sleeps off the effects of the previous night’s dinner and beer.

Training in general is still going really well.  I’m well and truly in the swing of it, despite the minor setback of a bug over the last week (thankfully not the dreaded swine flu) that kept me separated from my trainers for a few days.  I’m intending to go out tonight for a decent 4 miles to get me back on track.

So keep them crossed that I don’t succumb to temptation and turn into a couch potato.  I hope to come back with tales of beautiful clifftop runs and healthy living!


Days 570 to 591 – Marathon, one, Lighter Life, nil 3 September 2009

All change for me again … or perhaps I should say that my journey has simply taken another turn.  I found out the hard way (dizzy spells, exhaustion, lack of motivation) that my current exercise regime and lighter life don’t mix.  Now before anyone gets up in arms, I would like to stress that this is personal to me and not necessarily true for all of you (or any of you, for that matter).  When I did the diet the first time around, I managed lots of walking and a bit of swimming, nothing more.  I’m currently running four times a week, personal training for an hour, and invariably going to the gym for an additional cross training or cycling session.  That’s quite a lot of exercise on 500 calories a day.

So, I faced a tough decision.  Remain on lighter life and cut back on the exercise or go back to normal eating and keep with the new regime.  With an eye on my long term goals, and the marathon in particular, I chose the latter.  I’ve set myself the new target of being roughly 1.5 stone lighter by January based on healthy eating and exercise.  Will I achieve that?  Only time (and willpower) will tell.  It was a shame because my new lighter life group seemed really nice, after a bit of a rocky start with only two of us, and I’m sure we would have made a lot of progress together.  Good luck to them!

The running is going really well. I’m almost up to the distances that I was achieving before I screwed up my back earlier in the year.  I ran 4 miles last Sunday and am scheduled to do 6 on the next.  I’m optimistic about that.  My back seems to be holding out, due to better stretching and a very focused plan with my personal trainer.  Concentrating on my abs, my core and my overall stability has really helped.  I feel like I’m running with my whole body once again, which is brilliant.  Now all I have to do is keep dragging myself out there and keep increasing the mileage.

As for the healthy eating … well let’s just say that the bank holiday weekend did me few favours, but I’ve been compensating since.  Once I get into the habit of porridge or healthy cereal for breakfast, a light lunch, healthy snacks at intervals and low-carb evenings then I’m fine.  I get on a roll.  I’ve not dared to go near the scales since going back to food, but will brave them soon.  I’m too old to be afraid of some bathroom scales!