Sunday 21 January 2018

Runblog 1: On my bike

I mentioned that I was going to do a weekly running blog post so here I am doing that very thing which I'm calling my 'runblog'. How imaginative.

Yesterday I did my first run of the year. Hurrah! Oddly, I was sort of nervous about doing it. I was all "What if I've lost fitness?" and "What if I can't run and I have to walk because my body has forgotten how to run?" about it , but I gave myself a good talking-to, and after a twenty minute warm-up, I got my arse out of the door and into the rain. I walked to my usual starting point and Weezer's Feels Like Summer started playing as I broke into a run. This made me grin (because it's January and it was pissing with rain) but I grinned even more when I ran past a flock of geese in a very muddy field.

Look at them all having muddy funtimes

This particular bunch of sky-honkers fly over our house most Saturday mornings and I love hearing them. They live at the lake over the road from this field and yesterday it was like they were at some kind of goose day spa, thoroughly enjoying a therapeutic mud treatment.

Anyway, I set out with the intention of running a slow, easy mile and that way if my groin was playing me up I would just swear a bit and walk home. I ended up running two miles and I could have gone further but I didn't want to push my thigh luck. Running deliberately slowly is difficult. I'm not a fast runner at all, but making a conscious effort to run at a slower pace than usual is quite tricky and I actually ended up running faster than I did on my last parkrun. Ah well. It was just so wonderful to be back out there running. I've missed it so much and I ran most of the way with a stoopid smile on my face. This was partly due to my new Tikiboo nebula leggings. They're just so utterly cosmic!

I am in love with my nebula leggings

They are beautifully made too. They have a zippered back bumpocket (useful for stashing keys and fruit pastilles) and they also have a waist drawstring which guards against cases of baggy gusset syndrome. Nobody wants a baggy gusset when they're running. Or at any time, really.

I got home and did a long cool-down and a bit of foam rolling on my thigh. This is quite awkward and it looks very wrong, like I'm trying to hump a big grey sausage, but it really works. In case you're not aware, foam rolling is a way of doing a sort of deep tissue massage. You put the foam roller on the floor, and under the bit of you that want massaged, and then you put your weight on the roller and move slowly over it, back and forth, concentrating on any niggly bits. (Yeah, actually this does sound like I was trying to hump a big grey sausage, doesn't it?) Foam rolling can be a tad painful but at the same time it's really nice. It's particularly lovely on aching calf muscles. I've just got a smooth roller but you can get textured lumpy ones that really scrumble your bodymeats.

I want to do some form of cross-training on my non-running days. Until now that has been walking, which is great, but I do it anyway because I don't drive, so it doesn't ever feel like I'm actually doing a thing, if that makes sense. Ideally, I'd like to go swimming but the nearest pool is in town and that is just a hassle. And besides, I loathe swimming pools. Not the swimming  – the swimming is great – but I can't bear the rigmarole of it. You have to pack things and take shampoo and stuff. And then you have to stand in puddles in the changing room and you drop things in puddles and have to faff with lockers and keys. Then you go and swim and while doing so you try not to think of the other people's wee, arse particles, snot, germs and foot badness you're bobbing about in, let alone accidentally swallowing. On top of this, I end up performing an are-my-tits-still-in-my-cossie check and a pull-cossie-out-of-front-or-rear-crevice manoeuvre every two minutes. When you're done with the actual exercise you have to negotiate the changing rooms again but this time it's worse because you are wet. And cold. And oh god, look, there's the token unashamedly naked woman, leg up on the bench, towelling her undercarriage, but don't look at her, don't look, oh you looked at her and you made eye contact and why can't she just do the remove-cossie-and-put-underwear-on-under-the-towel thing that most of us perfected in the the gym changing rooms at school? Christ, it's stressful. And you will undoubtedly put a freshly-socked foot into a puddle. Then you have to battle for mirror space in the hairdrying area which is far too muggy because of all the hairdryers huffing hot air about, and there will be a couple of women applying a full face of make-up and spritzing hairspray and bodyspray all over the show, when all you want to do is get one tiny glimpse in a mirror to make sure you look borderline presentable and get the hell out of there.

So yeah, swimming is out.

That leaves the gym (just NO never) or cycling. So cycling is what I decided on. I've got a secondhand mountain bike which is a bit shit, but it's purple (and that goes a long way in my world) and it's got a lot of gears and it works and I'm not Bradley Wiggins so who cares? I pumped up its tyres, dusted off its cobwebs and squirted a bit of WD40 about, and pootled off. It was icy cold, snowing and therefore wet, but I just can't ever resist snow and I'd made up my mind to go out in it, and going out in it is what I did.

Wet and cold in my Guy Martin Proper hat that my dad gave me as a "well done on your running" gift

I cycled along my normal running route and most of the time I was thinking to myself "This is actually quite a long way and you normally run this, you weirdo" which made me feel proud of how far I've come (literally) since September, but it also made me think about how amazing anyone who runs long distances is. And I don't mean marathons or ultras – those people are incredible – I mean further than six miles, which seems like such a long way to me right now. I was going to do two circuits of my route which would have been about 10km but by about 6km it was snowing really hard and I couldn't feel my face so I decided to go home. My bike doesn't have mudguards so I ended up with a very soggy and mud-splattered bottom, and it took me about two hours to warm up afterwards. I really enjoyed the cycling and have now ordered a set of mudguards to try and minimise the grubby-buttocking that future wet bike rides will throw at me.

Because this past week has been full of me not running, I've been reading about running. Lots. I read No Run Intended and Run Intended by Hannah Phillips, both of which were amusing, entertaining and very inspiring - great stuff! I also read Your Pace or Mine? by Lisa Jackson, which was really good too. I'm partway through the audiobook of Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer which is incredible. Kathrine was the first woman to officially finish the Boston Marathon and flip me, she is one heck of a woman. I little-bit love her and I've not even finished listening to the book yet. I also got myself a copy of Build Your Running Body which is so good. Every time I pick it up I learn something new.

One last thing: I've started an Instagram account for my running. I wanted a place where I could ramble on about it without feeling bad for non-runner people. As I said in my last running post, I know how infuriating social media running posts can be. If you'd like to have a look, the account is lauracanrun and apparently I still can, even after almost a month off.


Your comments are much appreciated. Fire away!