Thursday, 28 June 2007

Boxing, weights and no running

The "no running" is because of the weather. It's been raining pretty steadily in Canberra for the past few days. It cleared for a while this afternoon, but it started raining again when I was heading home from work. I didn't manage to exercise at all yesterday. To my surprise I ended up feeling quite grumpy about that. I found myself trying to work out how I could fit a gym workout in between getting home and going to Trivia, but there just wasn't enough time to squeeze one in.

Today I headed off to the gym in the rain at 6 am for my personal training session. At least when I have an appointment I manage to get myself out of my toasty warm bed. I was delighted to find out boxing was on the cards. The warm up was pretty intense - two minutes of fast stepups, followed by running for a few minutes, then one minute of skipping and one minute of pushups. I did fine until the pushups. I'd manage to squeeze out five and then I couldn't catch my breath. I'd start again and lose my breath again. I had been feeling pretty proud of my cardio fitness up to that point, but I can see that there's definitely room for improvement.

The boxing is always fun. Today is was straight punches, high punches, uppercuts, combos (punch, punch, hook, uppercut), kicking, starjumps, 2 mins of fast punches, ab twists and crunches. I really struggled with the double crunch the other day, so I asked Leanne to review it with me. Silly me. That meant I ended up doing double crunches instead of ordinary crunches.

The last few weeks I've jumped on the treadmill after my pt session. I did that today, but I found myself standing there not knowing what I wanted to do. I eventually dialled up an aerobics session and was a couple of minutes into it when I realised I just didn't want to do it. I stopped, and headed home. I was beating myself up over it on the way home, when I realised that I'd just had an intense 30 minute workout with the boxing and I was probably too tired to enjoy the treadmill session.

After work I headed to the gym. I had my running gear with me, but I decided to do my weights program again. I really enjoyed my visit to the gym. I had a chat to Leslie, my old slim coach, about how I'm going with my weight loss. I'm really struggling with motivation at the moment. Leslie had good advice for me. I felt a lot more positive after talking to her tonight.

I worked through my program and, Celeste, I only had to wait for one machine to be free. Mind you, I nearly snapped at one lady - you'd think people could wait for a few seconds or say excuse me instead of practically stepping on you to grab their free weights. Not to mention the fact that if they dropped them it was my head that the weights would have fallen on. Just in case you're wondering, I was down on the floor putting weights onto a bar for my lunges.

As for my workout, it's definitely up a level. I'm still burning 4 cals/min instead of 3 cals/min. I don't know how much of that is due to the balancing. The biceps curls were quite an effort. By the end of the second set I was really struggling. They look so easy but that bent bar makes an enormous difference.

Another thing I've noticed is that I seem to be able to do the butt exercises. For ages, Leanne has been telling me to use my butt when I do squats and lunges. I've tried to, but I just haven't felt it there. Now that I'm doing the butt lift I can actually feel that I'm lifting my legs with my backside. One of my abs exercises works my butt too. On my way home I could feel that I'd been using it, so it looks like I've finally managed to work out what I should be doing. It's only taken me a couple of years!

The icebreaking is still happening at the gym, even though the challenge is over. There's one girl at the gym that I saw on the bus on the way home from work the other day. I've been wanting to say hello to her for ages, as she was one of the people who did a terrific job in the Biggest Loser competition. In fact, she came fourth overall. She's very shy and it's hard to make eye contact with her. I finally managed to say hello to her today and we had a chat on the way out of the gym too.

It must have been my day for talking to shy people. There's another woman who does the most amazing workouts. She's really fit and strong. The trainers work hard to challenge her and it's great fun to watch her workouts. Even though I often work out at the same time as her, we've probably only exchanged half a dozen words. I was filling in my card at the filing cabinet and I got out of her way, expecting her to just smile and move on, but she stopped for a chat today. Brief, but it was still a chat.

I got some really good service from one of the Fernwood ladies today. Her name is Cathy, so we often find the other staff giggling when we say hello to each other. This morning she noticed that I only seemed to have 3 pt sessions left and she was pretty sure I should have more than that. She phoned me to check that I hadn't cancelled them or used them up, and then she called head office and straightened it all out. An hour later she was back on the phone to me, telling me that I had 48 sessions. I thought it was great that she (a) noticed the problem and (b) fixed it before it impacted me. I'm going to have to call the manager and let her know how happy I am about that.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Rain, walk and yoga

This morning's run was rained out. I can't blame the rain for the fact that I didn't out of the house though. The gym is only 10 mins down the street and the rain keeps the temperature up. No, I stayed tucked up in bed this morning, finishing a book I bought at Borders the other day. My 13 year old nephew recommended the author - Matthew Reilly. I bought "Ice Station" which was the earliest of his books I could find. I was a little dubious when I read the cover, but I decided to trust Andrew's taste. I'm so glad I did. It was a real page turner. I'll definitely read his other books.

I also bought a Lee Childs book, as I've become a Jack Reacher fan, and "It's not about the bike", which I've wanted for ages. I kept meaning to borrow it from my brother, but I cracked under pressure the other day and bought it.

On the exercise front, I ended up walking home from work. The rain had stopped and I just missed a bus, after running down to the bus stop. There was a half an hour to wait for the bus and the trip generally takes about fifteen minutes followed by a ten minute walk so I figured I'd be home earlier if I walked. I was out on the time estimate though. Instead of 40 minutes it took me an hour, which means that it's further than I thought. Even though it was getting dark and there was a chance of rain I didn't mind that it took extra time which is another sign of how much my lifestyle has changed over the past few years.

I'm glad I walked from work to home first, as I wouldn't have known which paths to follow. I seemed to be all over the place. The 'rural' road wasn't exactly confidence inspiring, as there were a couple of white posts out of the ground. This bit is fine in daylight but would be a challenge in the dark.

Part of the route is along a busy road, so there are walking paths that take you under the road. There weren't any people out and about while I was on these paths, which was a little intimidating. I don't think I'll be doing this section on foot in the dark. When I got closer to home I took the back way for variety, but it was poorly lit and there was quite a lot of traffic. I'll go home via the brightly lit shopping centre next time.

I spent most of the walk thinking about cycling or running along the route. The journey is quite hilly, which will be a challenge for me on the bike or on foot, but I'm going to give both of those options a go once I get proper building access. At the moment it would be a hassle to have a shower at work, but it won't be a big deal once the access is sorted out. At the moment I'm thinking I'll take my running gear to work with me tomorrow and run home. I have to get panniers for the bike now too. More accessories = more shopping. :-)

I made it to Yoga this evening. I enjoyed it again. I feel great afterwards but it's definitely a challenge. There were some movements I just couldn't do. One was called the pigeon. I couldn't even start to work out what I needed to do to get my leg into the right place. I got better at some moves, like walking out and back with my hands. I love being more flexible than I used to be.

Another bonus of tonight's class was that I caught up with one of the Team Black runners before and after class. Lola did really well at the Terry Fox fun run the other week, improving her time by six minutes. She also pulled up really well. It was good to have a chance to exchange notes with another convert.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Great plans

I had all sorts of plans today, but they seemed to come to nothing. I had great ideas about heading out for a run or to the gym this morning, then I remembered that I was going to walk to work. I decided that was enough exercise for one morning. It didn't happen though, because a friend saw me and stopped to give me a lift.

It was a kind offer. Not to worry, I thought. I'll walk home. When I left the building after work I discovered it had been raining. I was also much later than I'd planned and it was nearly dark. As the first part of the walk home is along a 'rural' road, I decided it would be safer to postpone my walk for another day.

Alex, one of my Global Challenge team mates, thoughtfully suggested to me the other day that I should be walking to and from work to pick up steps for the team. I think it will take me about 40 minutes each way, which isn't too bad. I'll have to let her know that it nearly happened today. On second thoughts, I might wait until I've actually done it before I give her a progress report.

The one part of my exercise plan that did come to fruition was my visit to the gym. I decided I'd do my weights program again today, without the two new arm exercises. The program is taking a lot longer nowadays and I feel like I'm getting a really good workout. Lately I've been burning about 3 cals/min when I do weights, but this new program has it up to 4 cals/min. Given that it's also about 15 mins longer, that's pretty good.

Tomorrow I will be running in the morning and I think I'll give yoga another go tomorrow evening. I'll have to exercise in the morning on Wednesday, as the evening is taken up with Trivia. On Thursday I have pt in the morning. Depending on what I do I'll either be doing weights or cardio on Thursday evening.

Global Challenge Update

I have been really unmotivated with the Global Challenge this year. I think it might be because I'm not working with my team members this time, but that could just be me trying to rationalise my less than stellar performance.

The team's step average is about 15000 steps, which is pretty good. I'm sitting on a less than impressive 11700. Our placing has been all over the place the past couple of weeks, ranging between 35 and 70, depending on whether or not people have submitted their steps.

We're one third of the way through, so it's time for me to get my act together. Expect to hear about more walking over the next few weeks. I've written it down, so hopefully I'll end up doing it. That's the theory, isn't it?

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Cycling and weights

This morning I met up with Leonie and we cycled around part of Lake Burley Griffin. It felt good to get out and about, as I didn't do any exercise on Friday or Saturday. We were meeting up at 9 am, so I was counting on it not being too cold. I layered up as usual, but I swapped a lighter jacket for my ecofleece. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but there was still frost on our path in several places. I was surprised to see the first lot but quickly got used to it whenever we went through a shady patch.

I played catch up with Leonie most of the way around the lake. I was fine on the flat but lost her on the uphill sections. A couple of times I had to get off and walk, but I managed to ride most of the way. Playing catch up with Leonie is definitely improving my riding. I'm much more confident and I'm turning the pedals over faster. I also stood up on a number of hills and wasn't in constant fear that I'd topple over. The most fun improvement was that I pedalled down a couple of hills. Normally I've got the brakes on most of the way, so it was a real adventure to be going downhill faster than before.

I managed to get a good sweat up while I was riding today. I was puffing and panting too so I felt like I'd done a decent workout. I was out for about two hours, including a quick cup of coffee near the lake. My backside is definitely tender now. (Andrew, I do have proper cycling nicks - I just need to get used to riding I think.)

One advantage of riding round the lake - I now know what I'm in for when I decide to run it. Better still, there are a couple of marked runs, a 10 km and a mile. We had a few hills to ride up which will be good practice for the City to Surf. All I have to do now is get myself down there to run.

On the way home, Leonie decided to stop at the gym for Body Balance. She managed to inspire me to go there so I headed home, dumped the bike and my gear, then went back to the gym to do some weights. I didn't have enough time to do the whole program, and I'd already given my legs a good workout, so I did the upper body exercises. It always amazes me how quickly the body adapts to a new program. I really struggled with the triceps press last week, but I was able to do it this week. I don't think it will be long before I increase the weight on this one.

I am so glad I bought my skins. They kept my legs nice and warm while we were riding around the lake. I wore them to the gym as well. I look like a whole different person with them on.

I'm going to head out this afternoon for a walk. I recently bought a digital camera of my own, instead of borrowing one from home. I'm having a lot of fun taking photos. I have a book voucher to spend too, so I'll be coming home via Borders.

Saturday, 23 June 2007


I’ve been tagged by Beakus for the one word response meme. It's a challenge to only use one word - here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? Table

2. Relationship? Satisfying

3. Your hair? Brown

4. Work? Interesting

5. Your sister? Terrific

6. Your favourite thing? Family

7. Your dream last night? Forgotten

8. Your favourite drink? Coffee

9. Your dream car? BMW

10. The room you’re in? Lounge

11. Your shoes? Barefoot

12. Your fears? Falling

13. What do you want to be in 10 years? Alive

14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? Solo

15. What are you not good at? Silence

16. Muffin? Apple

17. Wish list item? Tattslotto

18. Where you grew up? Queensland

19. The last thing you did? Cook

20. What are you wearing? Tracksuit

21. What are you not wearing? Shoes

22. Your pet? None

23. Your computer? Thinkpad

24. Your life? Happy

25. Your mood? Contemplative

26. Missing? Company

27. What are you thinking about? Tomorrow

28. Your car? Astra

29. Your kitchen? Chaotic

30. Your summer? Anticipated

31. Your favourite colour? Red

32. Last time you laughed? Today

33. Last time you cried? Wednesday

34. School? Forgotten

35. Love? Wonderful

My turn to tag someone. I will hand on to Sarah, Warrior Woman and Celeste. Look forward to reading your responses.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Personal training

This morning I was at the gym at 6 am for my pt session. I was pleased it was today and not tomorrow. The overnight minimum for today was forecast to be 1 degree and ended up being 4. The forecast for tomorrow morning is -4. I don't think I'll be going outside for a run. In fact, the thought of heading to the gym before work sounds a bit challenging. Thank goodness I still have those exercise DVD's, just in case I wimp out.

We finished off my new weights program today. Leanne had me using this awesome bar for my triceps and biceps work. It is bent and looks quite intimidating. The clips to hold on the weights are enormous spring loaded clamps. Leanne loaded it up and I pleaded for immediate clemency. She then took the weight back to something manageable and started me off on the triceps exercise. I did really well during the first set of reps - I could whinge and moan for Australia. Funnily enough, the second set were better. The biceps exercise looked easy, but the bent bar added a whole new angle to it that made it a lot harder than I expected.

There seems to be this operation they give personal trainers before they start working with clients. I'm not sure if they have their hearts removed or if they just bypass the sensitivity centre in their brains but the operation is clearly effective. How do I know? Leanne was smiling as she told me my arms were going to hurt tomorrow.

We then went on to abs exercises. I've been doing these on the floor for a while, so I was surprised to get one standing up. That one involves standing on one leg and doing a sideways crunch. Then I was on my hands and knees and lifting my leg to the side and then backwards. This one requires a bit of pace. The last one had me sweating. It was a double crunch. Leanne assures me that I'll feel the pain in my abs tomorrow as well.

I thought about doing the rest of my program after my pt session, but I decided to save that for another day. I rationalised this by telling myself that abs work was meant to be done last. Instead, I hit the treadmill for a while. I did the aerobics training program for 20 mins at 6 km/h on level 8. Even though I'm so much fitter now, I found it hard work. My heart rate was up at 139, which is high for me when walking on the treadmill. I was surprised that I struggled, as I used to do this one a lot. I checked back through my earlier entries in the blog to discover that I mainly did this session at level 6. That's why it felt harder today.

Tomorrow I want to exercise in the morning, as I'm going out to dinner with a couple of friends. I had a run planned, but that will depend on whether or not I can face going outside into the cold. On Saturday, I'm due to go for a bike ride. We're planning to ride around the lake, which should be interesting.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Weights, recovery run and yoga

Yesterday I worked through my new weights program for the second time. I was smart and packed my gym gear before work, as I knew that I'd be likely to give it a miss after Sunday's run. I've been finding it hard to get myself to the gym lately, so I decided it was time to get myself back on track.

It was busy at the gym, and I had to wait to use various pieces of equipment, so I started with the fitball exercises, and jumped on the machines as they became free. My legs were tired after the run on Sunday. Going up the stairs when I left the gym was a real effort.

This morning I had a recovery run planned. This is the first time I've actually made it out for the recovery run. Normally I plan to do it but I don't quite make it. Now that I've done it once, I don't know how all you real runners keep on doing it! It hurt! My legs were very definitely telling me that they did not want to be out there.

I figured that I'd be ok once I was properly warmed up. I told myself it was a nice gentle run and it didn't matter how far or how fast I went, as long as I was out there. I kept my legs moving, but I had to slow down to a walk after about 10 minutes. I got myself running again, even though I was running away from home. My legs knew I was going in the wrong direction so they weren't too happy.

I'd headed off wanting to run 8 km but I realised that I'd been a little too ambitious. I jogged along as I tried to work out how far I was going to go. I'd give myself a point to aim for and I kept managing to push myself just a little further. My breathing was fine so it was just my legs that I was fighting with. After about twenty minutes I decided that it was time to pay attention to how my legs were feeling and I turned around, thinking I was going to have to walk home. I walked a little, then tried to run again. I managed a shuffle until I came to the pedestrian bridge. When I crossed it the first time, I'd walked up the hill and run down it. On the way back I decided to run across it, and I made it the whole way. I was feeling pretty proud of myself for making it up the hill when my legs were so tired, so I decided to keep running. Even though I'd been sure I was going to walk all the way home, I ended up running most of the way back. It may have been more of a shuffle than a run, but it was better than a walk.

I was out for about 45 minutes, which is a pretty good session for me. I think I ran/walked about 5 km. I made sure I stretched when I got home. My legs kept reminding me all day that they weren't happy. On the way out of the gym last night I picked up the winter timetable, and I remembered that Yoga was on tonight. I figured that would be good for my legs. I haven't been all that interested in Yoga but Celeste makes it sound like fun. I got home from work, changed into gym gear, and headed out into the rain before I could change my mind.

To my amazement, I really enjoyed the class. I was able to do most of the exercises. The instructor was really clear about what we were supposed to be doing and feeling. I was able to get right through the variations on the ab exercises, although I piked later when the group was duck walking around the place. I also now know what the "downward dog" is. I'll definitely do Yoga again.

It was great for my legs too. Yesterday, the stairs on the way out were really hard work. Tonight I ran up them.

EDIT: My official time for Run to the G was 1:08:03.85. :-)

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Run to the G

I really enjoyed myself today. This is the first time I've done a fun run in Melbourne and it was great to run around the MCG and its surrounds. My dad came along to support me, which was a real bonus.

When we arrived we were amazed by how many people were there. The 5 km event was in progress when we arrived. We heard that there were about 40000 people at the event, and that about 14-15 thousand of them were running or walking. 7-8 thousand were running in the 10 km event. I didn't have to drop my stuff off at the clothing area, as Dad was there to look after it, which took away one of my anxieties. We found the start and I headed for the over 60 minute section.

It was interesting to watch the crowd. There were lots of incredibly fit looking people who looked like they knew what they were doing. Most of those headed further up the line than me. There were plenty of walkers - you could recognise them from their clothes and the fact that many of them were carrying bags. I felt as though I looked like a runner even though I had my skimpy running top covered up with a dark blue polo shirt. I was wearing my Nike running pants and I wasn't carrying a bag. I was pretty chuffed when I saw someone look at me and then heard her tell her friend that there were runners in the area where the pair of them were waiting. I hope she was talking about me. It's kind of nice to be recognised as a runner.

Dad kept me company until about 10 minutes before the event, and then headed off to watch the start. The crowd got progressively more packed and you could tell that many of them didn't know how the start worked. In fact, some of them moved the barrier and just joined in with the faster runners. I saw the 60 min and 65 min pacing balloons, but I didn't try to join the 65 min group. In retrospect I'm sorry that I didn't, as I got around in 68 mins without really pushing myself, so I probably could have done it in 65.

The Lord Mayor started the race at about 10:08 and I crossed the line at 10:20. Even though I'd read people's blogs from Run for the Kids, I hadn't expected it to take that long. Lots of walkers started ahead of me, and I realised that I should have started further up the line. I'll know that next time. It seemed to take forever to get past the walkers, but I didn't get pushed or shoved. That's probably because I was the one going past people, rather than having faster runners pushing past me. Mind you, I got bumped around plenty waiting for the start, but I figured it was easier to just accept it than to get annoyed by it. It wasn't any worse than the bumping that happens on the plane every time I travel to Melbourne. Some people just have no manners. Getting upset about it isn't going to change them so I try to ignore it. Instead, I leave it to karma to get them for me.

Once I got to Flinders Street some space opened up and it was just running from that point on. It took me 7:20 to get to the 1 km mark, which was a good indication of how much time I lost getting past the walkers. After that, my km times were all over the place. I can't remember them all now. I know I got to the 2 km mark in 13:29, so that was a fast one. I was at the 3 km mark in 21:03, so I'd slowed down again. At the 7 km mark I was behind time, but I was ahead at the 8 km mark. I'm not sure if the km markers were wrong or if I'd read the time incorrectly at the 7 km mark.

I took a few walking breaks. I'd hoped to just run more slowly instead of stopping to walk, but my body just dropped to a walk without my brain being involved at one stage. I think I walked for about 6 or 7 mins in total, including the drink stations. I ran a lot faster during the last km, and had to drop to a walk for a breather in the straight leading to the finish line, which was disappointing. I took a few deep breaths and got myself back running fairly quickly.

I was delighted to cross the line before the 70 minute mark. I did the Canberra Marathon Eve 10 km in 1:09:28, so I improved my time today. Not by a lot, but it's still an improvement. I also felt better in myself during this run. Back in April, I didn't know whether or not I'd make it. Today, I knew I would. I passed heaps of people and I felt great when I finished. At the end you could see some people were really struggling. I didn't feel like that. Also, some people looked sore immediately after the race. I guess they tried harder than me. As for me, I have pulled up really well. I have tired legs of course, but I still feel great.

After the run I had to dash home, shower, and then come back into town to my sister-in-law's 40th birthday celebration. We had a "chocolate" afternoon tea at the Langham Hotel at Southbank. It was delicious.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Morning run

I'm glad I checked the weather report yesterday. When I got outside the building it was raining, as forecast. As I'd expected to be headed to the gym, the weather didn't matter.

It's been a while since I've run for any length of time on the treadmill. I decided to run 5 km last night, so this morning that's what I aimed for. I hadn't thought about the pace beforehand, but I started off at 8.5 km/h (7:03 min/km according to the treadmill) and that's where I stayed. I went through the whole "run 10 mins, run another 10" struggle, so I tried not to think about it or look at the distance. I started thinking I was bored just before I got to 20 mins, but I decided that was just my mind playing games with me as a way to get me to stop. Instead of stopping, I checked my form and cadence. That Chi Running book has been a lifesaver! Mind you, checking cadence suits me. I find counting while I run really relaxing. After a while I find myself doing all sorts of calculations in my head. I'm sure I get most of them wrong but it's fun working them out.

Once I hit the 5 km mark I walked for another five minutes as a cool down and then dutifully did my stretching. I've pulled up really well after the run, so I'm all ready for Sunday.

I mentioned that I'd be running with the girls on Tuesday morning. Unfortunately they are leaving later than usual, and it's going to take me longer to get to the starting point and back. I don't think I can fit their run in before work, so it looks like I'll be heading off on my own again on Tuesday. Oh well, them's the breaks.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

New weights program

I had my personal training session this morning at 6:00 am. I am glad it was early, as it means I get to the gym before it gets really cold. Going home doesn't seem to be such an issue, as I'm warmed up by then. Today the minimum temp was 0 degrees C. It was windy and trying to rain, so I'm pretty sure it "felt" colder than 0.

I was well rugged up for the ten minute walk though. I am a great believer in not being cold, so I wear lots of layers. I had jeans, a long sleeved top, a polar fleece and a duffle coat over my gym gear. I'm glad the girls at the gym get there early, as the heaters were going when I arrived.

Today I started on a new weights program. It's always amusing. This program is all about stability. As Leanne said, she can now give me exercises I wouldn't have been able to do twelve months ago. The first thing I attempted to do was a one armed row standing on one leg. I was in fits of giggles. Apart from balancing on one leg and trying to keep my abs locked on, I had to concentrate on moving the weight with my back rather than my arm. All this and remembering to breathe too! After that came pushups on the fitball. I am doing these on my knees for now. I don't know what it is, but I'm convinced I'm going to fall. I tried these in one of our "free play" weights sessions a few months ago, and I'm definitely doing better now. There's still lots of room for improvement. My goal for this program is to manage five of these pushups on my toes.

I was still stuck on the fitball. This time I was lying across it, with my legs up behind me. The object was to lift myself off the ball using my backside. This is meant to be good for my bum and my lower back. I am sure it is. It also looks incredibly inelegant, so I'm going to have to find a quiet corner of the gym for this one. A standard leg press came next. It's been a while since I used this machine, so I saw some real progress today, not so much in the weight I was moving but in the fact that I can have the seat further forward because I'm more flexible and I have less tummy in the way. I thought it was pretty cool. Side plank on the fitball came next.

We ran out of time for the rest of the program, so we'll finish it off next week. In the meantime, I'll do a hybrid program.

I wanted to go to the supermarket and it wasn't going to be open for a little while, so I jumped on the treadmill. It's a while since I did any of the set programs, so I gave the "Fat Burner" option a go at level 8, 6 km/h for 20 mins. It was a decent workout. During the biggest loser challenge I was getting quite bored with this, but it was fun today. I walked another 10 mins on an incline of 4, and then headed off to the supermarket.

The girls are going for a run tomorrow morning at 7:30 but I'm going to head off around 6:30. I prefer to start work early. I've had a look at the forecast and I might be heading to the gym for my run. It's going to be warmer but there are showers forecast. Running in the rain is quite pleasant, but I'm not so sure that applies when it's 5 degrees. I'm aiming to run 5 km. All I have to do now is make it out of bed in the morning!

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Interval training

This morning we ran intervals again. I knew what to expect this time, which was a huge help. We met up at a park near the War Memorial. It's about a 20 minute walk from my place, so I didn't bother to ride this morning.

We started out with a warm up run around the park. It has a couple of ovals in the middle, so I figure the perimeter has to be over 500 m. I love that I can do these warm up runs comfortably now, as I used to have to listen to myself moaning for the first ten minutes of any run.

After that we did the "kick your bum" and "knees up" part of the warm up. I am definitely doing better on these. There's no way that my knees go anywhere near my waist, but they are definitely going up higher. Some side steps, some surges, some skipping and some bounding and we were ready to start running intervals.

The oval we were running around was 360 m, and it was taking me about a lap and a half to catch my partner. I was tearing off and having to fall back to a walk to catch my breath after a while. I was really pleased to be running faster, but not so happy that it was taking so much out of me.

One of the things that amazes me about having trainers is that they can help you work out what to do about a problem with some simple advice. We were walking together for part of an interval and Krissi told me that I have to work on not stopping. It sounds so obvious, but she did more than that. She gave me a strategy. Krissi set me something to aim for that I feel like I can achieve. All I have to do is slow down instead of stop. I feel like I'm running out of breath, so if I slow down I should be able to get the breathing under control. How easy is that!?! And how obvious? Why did I not think of it myself? Because I was too busy gasping for air. Stopping solved the breathing problem, but didn't help me with my running.

Another thing I noticed is that the intervals seemed to get easier. I mentioned it to Krissi and she again told me something obvious - I was warmed up.

I like the interval training because I know it's improving my running, but I enjoy the walking intervals because I get a chance to talk to the other people at training. It's a great way to exercise - I'm improving my fitness and I'm having fun while I'm doing it.

Brad, our other trainer, was busy taking photos during the interval training. He's keen on photography, which has been great for us. He chronicled our Biggest Loser Challenge and the Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge. It's great to see the photos and we're going to get CD's shortly. Today, I was so tempted to stick my tongue out at him as I ran past, but they are the shots that always end up embarrassing you. Instead I concentrated on trying not to look as though I was about to die. Easier said than done. Still, it looks as though I might end up with a running shot. :-)

Krissi and Brad are going to be away for the next two weeks but the rest of us are going to meet up for a run anyway. I think the girls are great for being willing to come along those weeks, and if they are prepared to do it, so am I. We're going to do a long run next week and some fartlek the week after. It's hill training the following week - something to look forward to. *cough*

I was offered a lift home by a few people, but I walked it instead. I was pleased with that too, as the old me would have taken the easy option.


I bought some. Wow. They are as good as everyone has been saying. I have been reading the compression leggings thread on the ausrun forum but it's taken me ages to feel like I'm enough of a runner to buy skins. What ended up convincing me that I should invest them was how cold it was for the last Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge session. Winter hadn't even officially started.

I figured there would be plenty more cold mornings like that on the running course so I bit the bullet, read the instructions, chose the size smaller because I was on a borderline, handed over the money, and hoped like hell that they would fit me when I tried them on. Thank goodness, they did. I wore them around the house last night, and couldn't believe the difference they made. I've had a sore calf since having a bad cramp the other night, and it stopped hurting! Ok, it hurt a lot less, but it sounds better the way I told it first.

The real test was this morning. It was 1 degree C this morning when I was walking to the park, and I was warm in my skins. I was a doubter so I wore a pair of capri running tights over the top, just in case. The skins came through though which meant that the running pants came off as soon as I got to the park.

Food Victory

I know the post is getting a bit long, but this one is a major victory. I've been struggling with my eating lately. I've been doing a fair bit of emotional eating - the kind where you're not hungry but you ravenously devour everything in sight and then go looking for more.

Well, I was close to doing this today when I took a step back and decided that I wasn't going to give in to temptation without a fight. Instead, I decided that I would make something really healthy and tasty for dinner. If I still felt like eating mountains of food, then I would eat dinner early. At least that way, I would be eating healthy food instead of empty calories.

I'm pleased to say that it worked. And I have delicious leftovers for later in the week. Yay me!

Monday, 11 June 2007

Wetlands cycle

This morning I met Leonie for a bike ride over to the wetlands. I got there a little early, as I hadn't been to our meeting place before, so I rode over to Commonwealth Park and cruised around for 10 minutes before heading back to meet her. As I was cruising it started to rain lightly, but fortunately, it stopped soon after we headed off.

Now, I'm a beginning cyclist. Leonie thinks she is too, but she's way ahead of me. I was pleased about that, as it helped me to move up a level. We were cycling much faster than I normally do, and I got some advice about the gears too. By the end of the ride I was actually standing up on the bike as I went up hills.

The path we took was the Mother's Day Classic course, so it had the advantage of being familiar. When we got to the turnaround point we ventured along a little further into the wetlands. My legs were tired, but I didn't want to get that far and not actually go in. We went into a couple of hides and had a look at the birds. It was different riding on the dirt paths. When we came to the end of the made path, I would probably have kept going, but Leonie mentioned prickles and flat tyres. That was enough to convince me that paths were best.

We had a cup of coffee beside the lake, and then headed home. All up, I was out and about for almost two hours. My backside is complaining about the unaccustomed effort, but I felt it was well worth it. We're going to ride around the lake in a couple of weeks. That will be further than I ever ventured before.

I think I travelled about 20 km today. I have given up on the bike computer that I was bought. I can't find an O Ring thin enough for it, and I tried tying it on but it didn't seem to work when I'd done that. I figure I'll go and buy myself a new one!

One of the things I enjoyed about today was that "Wheee!" feeling you get when you're going down a hill quickly. It's like being a kid again, isn't it?

I'm going to have to go out for a walk this afternoon. Bike riding doesn't do much for my step count. I think they give us about 250 steps per km. Tomorrow I have the running course. We're doing interval training, which ought to involve plenty of steps.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Climbing Mount Ainslie

Well, I don't know that you can call walking along a path up a mountain climbing as such, but it took me half an hour to get to the top today. Mount Ainslie has an elevation of 842 metres, so it's a little over one third of the height of Mount Kosciuszko. Of course, we didn't climb the whole 842 metres! I looked up the course of the Mt Ainslie run-up to see how far we'd gone. The run is 2.2 km with a 240 m elevation gain.

We probably walked a little further than that, as Alex and I started from the CSIRO car park. I walked to the car park from my place, which took me 25 minutes, and then we headed up the mountain. At times we were both puffed out, which had me wondering about the people who run up this mountain once a month. Whenever I do wonder about them, I think they are crazy, but I also envy them their fitness. Today, while I was walking up the hill, I was wondering if I would ever be fit enough to give it a go. At the very least, I am going to practise walking up it, as a way to get used to hills for the City to Surf. Alex is willing to come along with me, which is great. Company seems to make these things easier.

I found it harder to go down than up. I'm a little afraid of stairs at the best of times, so the various stone steps were a challenge. Mind you, my balance is much better than it used to be, so I handled them better than I expected.

There were lots of people on the path, which surprised me. I don't know why. The people of Canberra are very active. We were passed by a few runners as well, although we only encountered one who ran down and up while we were on the path.

Fernwood Biggest Loser Challenge Finale

The Biggest Loser Challenge awards lunch was held yesterday. Two of my team members came 1st and 3rd, which was pretty special, and Black Team won the team challenge. The gym manager kindly awarded us all star shaped medals. Ours were threaded on gold ribbon, which was a nice touch. We were also given a certificate, a present of some toiletries and a small bag of lollies, and an individual photo album with a series of photos from the event. They had gone to a lot of trouble, which I really appreciated.

I gave my speech and it seemed to go over very well. I was a little disconcerted, because they kept clapping my achievements when I didn't expect them to. For instance, I explained that I used to be puffed out for five minutes after walking up a flight of stairs and that now I could run for an hour without stopping and they all clapped. It was lovely but I'm not used to it, so it took me a while to find my speaking rhythm. Not that anyone there seemed to notice, as the feedback afterwards was positive.

I enjoyed telling them a story about an exercise that I used to see this woman doing when I first started at the gym. I'd be doing the dreaded step ups and she had this great exercise that I envied because it looked like something I could achieve. I demonstrated the exercise to universal amusement. She was doing a chest stretch by putting her hand on the wall and leaning. What's tragic about the story is that it's a true story. I really did wonder why it wasn't on my program!

You could see the difference in the way Team Black had bonded compared to the other teams. There were chairs set up in the function room, and my team turned the neat row of chairs into a circle so that the whole team was included. The other teams managed with the rows of chairs. I was extremely fortunate to be put into Team Black I think.

We headed off for a coffee after the event, and we're having our own breakup lunch in early July. It's taking ages because we don't want to leave anyone out.


I've been having real motivation problems lately, particularly with my eating. Writing the speech was good for me, because it reminded me of the basics. I know what I need to do, I just have to do it.

I'll have to get myself back into a regular routine with the gym. We've been changing things like my personal training, trivia and squash. I'm one of these people who likes to be organised, so I'm going to start working to a schedule again. At the moment the only definite things are the Running Course on Tuesday at 6:45 am and personal training at 6:00 am on Thursday.

Mind you, tomorrow is a Public Holiday, so my gym is closed! Much as I like my gym, it seems to have the worst hours in the world. All is not lost though. I'm meeting up with one of the women I met at the Group Outdoor Fitness Challenge tomorrow for a bike ride at 9 am tomorrow. We're going to ride for an hour. I've no idea how far that will be, but I'm looking forward to it. I love how my circle of friends has increased so much with all my exercise activities.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Personal Training and Public Speaking

I had my first personal training session in weeks at 6:00 am on a really cold Canberra morning. I was glad I was headed to the gym rather than down by the lake. It was windy too, so I was hoping that Leanne didn't have a run planned for me.

We went through my weights program. Initially Leanne just wanted to see what progress I'd made on a few of the exercises she'd given me, before starting on a new program. After demonstrating some serious improvement with my abs exercises, I told her about my concerns with the knee, and she decided to see the whole program. I don't normally do the abs work first, so it seemed all back to front. It did mean that I was able to do the two sets of triceps pushups on my toes without faltering, which was a bonus.

I was saying the other day that I was a bit concerned about the leg exercises. My knee was really tired after training last Thursday, but it came good quickly. Leanne explained that the exercises were designed to strengthen my knee and so being tired was to be expected. I did them with her, and my form is fine. My left knee did make funny noises when I did the one-legged squats, but I got through them all (two sets of 20) without losing my balance or needing to take a break. The knee has been tired today again, but it doesn't feel injured. I had been going to go for a run, but I decided to rest it instead. I'll run tomorrow instead. At least, that's the plan.

One of the things I love about strength training is that I see measurable progress each time I do my program. It might be small, like understanding the exercise or it might be big, like increasing the weight or getting through both sets of the abs exercises without stopping, but the progress is there to be made. My core strength has improved out of sight with my running, and I love that too.

I wore a close fitting red top over my running pants this morning. Normally I wear something baggy over the top of it, but I'm working on changing the way I cover myself up all the time. I figure if I'm looking at myself in the mirrors in the gym, I'll get used to the way I look. I guess being prepared to wear close fitting clothes with people around is a benefit of wearing proper running gear. It's completely unforgiving. Every lump and bump shows but the technical fabric is so comfortable that I'm prepared to sacrifice vanity for comfort. Also, I've been telling myself if I get out there early enough, the only people who are going to see me are other runners.

Public Speaking

I love to speak in public. It was much more confronting for me to get on my bike to ride to the outdoor fitness challenge sessions than it is for me to get up in front of a crowd and speak. Why am I telling you this? I've been asked to give a motivational speech at the gym. In fact, I'm delivering it on Saturday, which doesn't give me all that much time to write and rehearse it.

Krissi, the Black Team leader and the person who inspired me to do all this outdoor exercise, suggested it to me while we were running up the hill yesterday. She contacted the manager at Fernwood, who phoned me today and asked me if I'd speak on Saturday at the Biggest Loser Challenge lunch. I jumped at the chance, so now I'm busy writing a speech. I'm really looking forward to it. I feel as though I have something to say that's of value to people, and it will be a way to give back to the gym some of the support that they have given me over the past two and a half years. I hope they enjoy listening to me.

Global Challenge Update

Our team has travelled 1000 km. We are in 38th place at the moment, with an average of 14874 steps/day. The leaders have travelled 1659 kms, with an average of 24,686 steps/day.

Response to comments

Thanks for all the encouragement. It's kind of you all to tell I'm not slow. The other girls who are running are faster than me, but that doesn't worry me, apart from not wanting to hold them up. I'm doing this for me, not them.

I'm really happy with the progress I'm making with my running. I like writing the times and distances down so that I can see how far I've come. When I started out, running a kilometre in under 6 mins seemed impossible, so I'm really pleased to have achieved that. I read other people's times and distances and I'm in awe. Still for me, it's not about running faster, even though I am pleased that I can. My current running goals are:

1. Have fun
2. Run without injury
3. Run three times a week, including a long run
4. Run outside at least once a week
5. Run for longer

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Running Course

Today was the first day of the running course that I've signed up for. It was meant to be a chilly 0 degrees here in Canberra, but I found out later that it got down to -2. There was certainly plenty of frost around. It's the first morning that the fence where I sit to take off my bicycle knicks was too frosty to sit on!

I was well rugged up when I arrived at Lennox Gardens. I was wearing a sleeveless top, a t-shirt, my new green running jacket, my warm ecofleece jacket and my bright yellow bike jacket, as well as two pairs of socks, my running pants, my bike pants, warm bike gloves and a beanie. It was a real effort to take a few layers off before the run, but I managed to get rid of the bike gear, my warm jacket and the beanie.

There were six of us there this morning, all familiar faces from Team Black, along with the two trainers. Today's session was hill training, so we headed off to Parliament Hill. When I've gone past on the bus I've noticed these wide green sections. It never occurred to me that I'd be running up one of them, but that's what happened this morning.

When we got up to the level around the building, we did a 1 km time trial. I'd done it really hard in the initial jog and the run up the hill. I'm not sure if it was all in my head or if it was the cold, but I wasn't a happy camper. Still, I knew the time trial would be used for comparison later, and I was curious to see how I'd go. The fastest I've run a km in a race is 6:15.

I was the first one to head off and the others followed me at 15 sec intervals. Being the slowest runner in the group, I quite liked that arrangement as it meant that they wouldn't all be waiting ages for me at the end. I took off too fast, even though I knew I shouldn't, and ended up taking two short walk breaks to get my breath back. I was counting steps so I know that they were both only about 30 seconds. I ended up covering the km in 5:48, which surprised me. I was pleased too.

After the time trial, we headed to the hill that covers the building. I had no idea that we'd be allowed to run on it. We were running up the hill on one side, walking across to the other side, jogging down the hill, and then walking back to the start. The route was shaped like a trapezium. The hill was divided into sections by concrete paths going across the hill. The first time up I got past half way before walking for a little, then running again to where we were finishing. I was so relieved that the girls were stopping after the fourth section instead of doing one more section.

The second time around I ran more of the hill and the third time, with Krissi running with me and encouraging me, I made it the whole way. The fourth time, I stopped, thinking I was done, but Krissi encouraged me to keep on going, and I got to the top. A couple of the girls managed to run the hill five times, which was a magnificent effort.

While we were running up the hill for the last time, a gardener arrived and asked us to stop. Apparently you're not supposed to run on the hill when the turf is frosty. I'm glad we didn't find that out at the beginning, as we would have had to stop then. We're only down for this hill once during the course, so it would have been disappointing to miss out on running up it. When I visited Parliament House I remember looking down on this hill from the top of the building, and thinking that it would be great fun to play on the hill. Now I've done it. :-)

After we finished the hill run, we jogged back down to Lennox Gardens. We took a different path down the hill. I had no idea that the hill had running tracks or that the bicycle path took you up to Parliament House. I also had no idea that we were allowed into the area to exercise. I certainly didn't expect to be running on the hill on top of the building. Wow.

By the end of the session we'd run about 6 km. I rode home on my bike and was really glad to get into my nice warm apartment. The only other exercise I've done today has been walking! My legs are really feeling tired now and I'm sure I'll sleep well tonight.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Entry form is in - Run to the G

I had such a good run this morning, 10.5 km, that I came home and put my entry form in for the 10 km race. It's about time. I've been trying to decide between this run and the Terry Fox fun run in Canberra, but the decision ended up being made for me. Deb, my sister-in-law, is having her 40th birthday party on 17th June, and there's no way I'm missing that, so Melbourne it is.

I headed out for my run at about 11 am, which is late for me, but I slept in, and then realised that I hadn't eaten all that well yesterday if I was going to run for 10 km this morning. Once upon a time I'd have had no idea that nutrition was that important. I ate breakfast and then waited for it to digest properly before heading out.

I was all kitted up with my fuel belt. I want to get used to running with it. It's much more comfortable than I thought it would be. Mind you, I'm only carrying water at this stage. I was thinking about it while I was running, and I really don't drink that much during the run. I will have to start using the spare bottles for a protein drink and something like gatorade. I haven't gotten into this stuff as yet, but if I'm going to run for more than an hour at a time I'll have to start being more organised.

My run started off well. I did the body sensing thing from Chi Running and realised that my tired knee from Thursday was in great shape today. Maybe I was overreacting on Thursday night. My right quad was a bit tight, but this eased itself out during my warmup.

My goal was to run the whole 10.5 km without stopping, if I could. If you've read any of my previous posts, you'll know I'm a run / walk person, so managing to run the whole way is a challenge for me. I broke it down into achievable goals. I'd run for 2 km before walking in the ABS fun run, so I aimed to get at least that far. Then I aimed to get to the 3.5 km mark, the 5 km mark, the 7 km mark, etc. The run was three 3.5 km loops, and I did them in 23:34, 24:00 and 24:06.

I have no real sense of the pace I'm running at. I ran too fast at the beginning of the ABS fun run (6:15 mins / km), which is why I was walking so early into the run. This morning I set myself the challenge of running at a slower pace (6:50 mins/km ave), so I was pleased with the time. Also, the run felt really good. I didn't lose control of my breathing, I had time to look around and enjoy the scenery, I managed the fuel belt, and I enjoyed myself out there. What more can you ask for?

I think 10 km is the distance for me at the moment. I was telling somebody yesterday that I was entering the 10 km run instead of the 5 km run, because it was more of a challenge. I'm not so fussed about the time I go around in, although I do like to see an overall improvement. The thing I really like about running is the way I feel when I get to the end of the run. I'm proud of myself for completing it and I feel strong and healthy. A few years ago I would never have imagined myself running across the street let alone for 10 kms, so I feel an incredible sense of achievement every time I run, even if it's only for a few minutes.

I'm seriously thinking about doing City to Surf now too.

Global Challenge update

I've been taking it easy the past couple of days, but my team is on fire. One of our members hadn't logged her steps for the first week. As she'd spent three days bushwalking, she had quite a respectable tally to add, which has our team in 22nd place today. The placings are always dodgy over the weekend as a number of teams don't update until Monday. Still, it's an amazing ranking for this early in the competition. What's even more surprising to me is that the team's average is higher than my average. I'll have to get my backside into gear! I never thought the team as a whole would be pushing me. Mind you, I don't think I'll tell them that. :-)