Sunday, July 22, 2012

Views From A Run in France

I'm staying with my in-laws at their home in France at the moment, as part of my family's summer holiday (we've also been visiting the UK).  They live in a lovely, quiet village called Villamblard and are surrounded by beautiful countryside.  

Yesterday morning marked my first official long run for my NYC marathon training, and I had an 8 miler planned. I decided on a simple out and back route. It turned out to be the most beautiful and satisfying run I've had in a long time. 

The weather was just right, cool, sunny and fresh, with not a smidgen of the NYC humidity that I find so hard to deal with.  My pace, while far from fast, was steady and sure and my legs felt good the whole way. 

I'd been worried that I would find it difficult to run here as there is a complete absence of anything resembling a pavement, with just grassy verges at the side of the winding, hilly roads.  

After a couple of shorter runs, however, I soon got the hang of it: basically you run towards oncoming traffic, stick to the side of the road, and hope that the cars will make way for you (if not - you quickly jump back onto the grass!).  One downside to this is that you can't run with headphones - it's just too dangerous as you can't hear what's coming, and with so many twists and turns to the roads, you need to have your wits about you.  However, the genius that is my husband, suggested I run with my iphone playing through its speaker, so I gave that a try.  Considering that I saw, at most, about 15 cars and 2 people on the whole run, you can imagine how quiet it was, so I could easily hear Joni Mitchell (yes, I am old and I may well be a closet hippy), singing as I ran past fields of corn and wild flowers. 

'I am on a lonely road and I am travelling, travelling, travelling, travelling.....'.  Oh yes, Joni. I am.  I am.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Guest Post by Gill

A few months ago I received an email from my lovely friend Gill that made my day (read it here).  Inspired by this blog, Gill and her husband, Gareth, had both embarked on an 8 week beginner's running programme and had achieved fantastic results.

Gill, Gareth and their gorgeous brood on their wedding day

It's the time of year when lots of people are thinking about getting into shape.  So, if you're thinking about getting fit and dropping some of those extra Christmas pounds, this guest post from Gill, which shares her experience of becoming a runner, might provide you with just the inspiration you're looking for.  

So, over to Gill......

I hate the gym. It's just so communal and stuffy and full of other people. I've had occasional attempts at "going for a run" over the last couple of years, always getting disillusioned with it and giving up after 3 or 4 sessions. As I'm getting older, the idea of being a little fitter and healthier gets more attractive.  I don't smoke anymore, or binge drink or any of the other random activities that used to define me.

Then your blog directed me to the Runners World Beginners programme. 8 weeks, slowly building up to be able to run for 30 minutes. One Tuesday morning in June, I decided to start. Like all major decisions I've made in my life - having children, training to be a midwife,  Gareth moving in and having more children - if I thought about it for too long I would have come up with a million reasons not to, so I just did it.

However, the first time I didn't read the programme properly and only ran for 1 minute and walked for 2 minutes 3 times. I arrived home feeling quite smug, reporting to the husband that it was really easy and I must be fitter than I think, only to check and realise that I should have done another 5 repeats. What a wally. Next morning I went out and did the 8 repeats, came home red faced, sweaty but jubilant.

Two weeks later, as I embarked on week 3, my husband decided he was going to give it a go. We both followed the schedule to the letter. As each week went by I couldn't believe the progress we were making. Week 7 and 8 for me coincided with being on holiday on the Isle of Wight.  I was really looking forward to running by the sea. That was brilliant, although I did find it hard work running along the same level for significant amounts of time. At home, we are lucky enough to have the magnificent Alexandra Park at the top of the street, which offers lots of different terrain, woodland, a lake to run by and lots of inclines and declines to challenge one's legs, along with amazing views of London if we make it to the top of the hill. 

Now, a few weeks further down the line, I'm still running for roughly 30 minutes, 3 times a week, as is Gareth. Going for a morning run has become a habit now. A habit that luckily is good for me! Some mornings it takes longer to warm up and get going, but the 8 week schedule has taught me not to give up and I find myself really getting into the zone and not thinking about anything except breathing air and moving my legs. I've lost half a stone since June, without having to give up chocolate, so that's a major result.

Next challenge will be to continue into the winter months, to prove to myself that I'm not a fair weather runner- luckily Gareth has purchased some all weather running gear (I prefer his stuff, women's sports wear assumes that you want the world to see your midriff). My neighbour who has also been inspired by the 8 week schedule and I have a loose plan to run the Crouch End 5k Fun Run in May next year.

Most importantly, the hour and a half a week I spend out running is my time. All mine. When your home life and work life is spent being with other people, this time has been so valuable for my mental health as well as my cardiovascular health. 

Its a win win no brainer really!

Gill x