Andree Walkin – Transvulcania 2018 Half Marathon Race Report
I’m sure we all have a friend or friends who rope you into interesting things at particularly vulnerable moments in your life right? Well, I’m glad to say I’ve got a few of these types of friends. On a car journey following an epic Art O’ Neill 2018 event my buddy and our go-tri adventure founder and guru Paul Tierney mentioned about a group travelling out to Transvulcania Ultra race in Spain in May.
At that point in time, with my feet still feeling like blocks of ice I could think of nothing better than some sunshine on my bones and a run up a volcano! So I thought, ‘yes why not? I’ll tag along, support you guys and maybe do the half distance while I’m out there.’
Definitely a little bit delirious from the long night in the hills I really couldn’t think of anything nicer than running up a volcano on a sunny day! Hmmm note to self don’t agree to anything when you’ve been out running in hail, wind and sleet for the night.
The run-up to May involved a lot of broken training sessions. I did get some quality snow days in the hills with the other Go Tri Adventure loonies but not much consistency, however, I decided to head out, get a taste for the race, soak up the atmosphere and some sun and see what the legs could do on the day.
Four of us travelled in the end. Our travel agent Alan Webb managed to sort flights for the four of us in and out of Shannon which was just ideal. So off we went early Thursday morning from Shannon. After a nice flight to Tenerife and then joining forces with some other Irish guys we hopped on another short flight to the beautiful little volcanic island of La Palma. I immediately liked the feel of the island. Very Spanish and not at all touristy. After a few detours and tight street car manoeuvres, excellently performed by Loren, we eventually found our way to our air bnb home for the weekend and then hit on to watch the first big event of the weekend – the vertical KM. This was a fun event to see but let’s just say we were happier to watch and cheer for this one – I’m not sure the plane legs would have tackled that climb!
The lead up to race day was very relaxed. For our usual pre-race routine on Friday morning we went for a little trot to stretch and loosen the legs followed by a nice stretching/yoga session on the pier. Our short run ended up being a little longer due to a slight Tierney exploration but it was so much fun and I got to see some of the gorge route which I wouldn’t get to run and wow it was pretty spectacular. I then took the lads through some improvised yoga moves overlooking the water which they were very open tnd I think I may have converted them:)
A relaxing day was followed by an early night.
At 3am I stuck my sleepy head out the door to wish the boys well and then back to snoozey land for another hour for this chica. Then at 5am Loren my lovely chauffeur arrived to take me to the bus station. I felt pretty good considering the early hour and I even ended up snoozing again a little on the way to the start line (yes over the years I have learned to take every available opportunity to sleep and luckily I am particularly prone to sleeping on buses) So 50 mins or so later still in darkness we arrived at a very windy Faro de Fuencaliente. A few moans and groans before the bus was vacated and we all made our way to the spectacular Fuencaliente lighthouse.
I could feel the buzz of the Ultra which kicked off an hour prior still in the air. The usual pre-race milling around took place but I managed to just enjoy the atmosphere and find a nice spot inside the lighthouse to stay warm and stay off my feet for an hour. Then before I knew it was time to hit the start line. The feeling was simply electric there with music pumping and everyone dancing and jumping up and down most likely to keep warm as there was still a crisp chill in the air. So exactly on time at 7.30am off the hooter went and we began the first climb up the volcanic sand of Malpais.
After a good slog on volcanic sand the first aid station was 7k in and I think this was my most favourite experience of the . What seemed like the entire population of Fuencaliente had come out at this early hour of the morning and lined the streets to cheer on the runners up the hill to the aid stations. I couldn’t help but think of the Tour de France as people were so close they almost were touching me. It was some feeling. I think the shouts of “Vamos” and “Go Chica” will stay with me forever. It certainly carried me onwards – that and the friendly cola bottle guy I met at 15k☺ Before I knew it I was at the highest point Las Desedas and the views! Well I just had to stop for a pic or two. Again the aid station was perfectly placed and manned and the marshals were so helpful. So onwards again to the final stage and the forest area which reminded me of my local run at Ballycuggaran, every twist and turn was manned with friendly marshals or first aid people and I have to say it was so nice to see their smiling faces. Before I knew it I was descending (for once) into the finish straight and the area of El Pilar and that was it – my first half marathon-up-a-volcano done! I really can’t recommend this race highly enough.
Thanks to everyone for the support especially my travel companions, Ultra men and support crew Paul, Alan and Loren. Now all I can say is roll on Transvulcania 2019, though maybe with a little extra training and added distance;) Oh and hopefully a few more brave Irish soles/souls☺ to join in the fun!
Course details: 24.28 km 2,097 meters of positive cumulative gain and 689 meters of negative cumulative gain
A rambling post about a half marathon, back injuries and turning 40.
OK, so long story short. I haven’t posted on BitchMittens for a REALLY long time.
Partly it was because I hurt my back while weightlifting, and after that, I was so whacked out on nerve blockers and lurching from one cortisone injection to another to be inclined to talk about the uplifting and inspirational value of sport. I’d also set up my own business, and found myself working days, nights and weekends without pause. So that’s basically where I’ve been for the past 12 months. In case anyone wondered!
SPOILER – Working too hard, stressing too much and not sleeping enough, will compound a serious injury and prevent your body from healing.
So that only took me a year to figure it out!
What a dope.
By the time I had copped on to myself, I’d spent a year off the water, and quite a lot of time when not working bonkers hours, feeling sorry for myself. Rowing is an addiction. Being on the water is a type of therapy. I think it’s especially appropriate therapy for certain nervous energy types. Being off the water took away a type of medicine. I tried a bunch of other things, (clinical pilates, bikes, swimming) but they all felt like exercise, and holy god stationary bikes are just tush-torture. Plain and simple.
To make matters worse, I turned 39. Which meant (ominous music) that 40 loomed.
They’re funny things, milestone years. Marketing studies have shown that people in the run-up to these (30, 40, 50 birthdays) behave differently than the rest. Interestingly, this errant behaviour is in the lead up to the milestone, and not after the fact, as I might have assumed. (Richard Shotton covers this, and how advertisers target those people, in his fascinating book on behavioural bias The Choice Factory)
So, you see – it’s official. This year is supposed to feel strange.
I woke up one morning and realised that I was middle-aged. And boy, was that a shock! I have no fears about getting older, I relish the idea of being a wise old owl. I just don’t want to groan when I sit down, or forget what my toes look like! But also it kicked me into gear. You only get one life, right? And I only had one back. And I wanted to feel like I did when this header picture was taken, the night after the Irish rowing champs, where I was physically fit, feeling strong, and totally fabulous.
I needed to do everything I could to get better. So I went back to basics. I slept. I drank water. I stopped lugging a huge handbag stuffed full of technology and knickers and bought a thing on wheels. I swapped my office chair for an ergonomic kneeling thing. I invested in a standing desk. I kept going back for more MRIs, kept chipping away at the exercises, at the doctors’ appointments. I weaned myself off the nerve blockers and despite my doubts, went for a small operation that would help cope with the nerve pain signals, perhaps for long enough to let me get better.
And then, after all that… I slowly began to get better!
I emerged from the mist, older, wiser and very much soggier about the middle. So then I set myself a challenge. This year, I would get ‘FIT 4 FORTY’. I would set myself a series of small challenges, while I am able to move – to help me find my way back to full fitness, before I begin the wild downhill ride of my later years.
Randomly I decided I would aim for the following things:
- Complete a half marathon
- PB a 5K run (My PB was 3 years, at about 24 minutes)
- PB a 2K erg test (The absolute definition of hell on earth, and even thinking about trying this makes me want to puke)
- Be able to do five chin ups (even at my very fittest, I could only do 3!)
- Be able to do a backwards crab (I did it in my twenties, so could I get this back??)
So I have very slowly set to training, and I have about 6 months to get there. I started about three months ago by walking, then running on sand. I did that for about a month. Then I started running longer distances. Checking the whole time that I wasn’t doing damage. And then last week, I completed a half marathon. I put one foot in front of the other. My only goal was to run the whole thing, and I did! I was hoping to do it in under 2 and half hours. My finish time was a respectable 2.14. I texted my spinal surgeon to say thanks, and had a little cry at the finish line.
Now I don’t want to do anything stupid, as I was injured for such a long time, but I also think having goals is a good thing. And so, with help and support from suitably medically qualified poeple I’m going to work towards a few more of these challenges. I’ll try and blog about them too!
I want to be #Fit4Forty.
Wish me luck!!
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PrincessBitchMittens is an award-winning, non-profit blog from Emily and Rhona.
To many avid fitness enthusiasts (myself included) walking just seems like a non-thing. It’s not exercise, it’s a mode of transport. A way to get from A to B. How could you possibly work up a sweat from that?!
Well, what if I told you that it’s not all about sweating it out.
I honestly used to think walking was the average lazy joe’s method of staying active. Cruel, I know but I had spent 3 years running my butt off to get in better shape and then another 2 years competing in a highly active sport. If you weren’t dead from training it simply wasn’t enough. And with my husband around the only walking I ever did was uphill (in the rain, backwards, barefoot). Aaaaand I live in a little town in the west of Ireland so walking around was just how I got around. So it never felt like a proper way to stay active (though come on, that’s how they did it in the fifties).
But over the last few months I’ve had a few Sunday afternoons to myself and the weather wasn’t being a dickhead (when, you’re asking but trust me). And instead of doing some intense shit and then vegging on the couch (and also trying desperately to avoid packing – we’ve just moved by the way) I decided to stick on a podcast (My Favourite Murder anyone?) and just head out into the countryside. Either up a little hill, through some woodlands or down by the lake. I would head out for an hour or two and comeback feel fresh and alive and happy. (That’s me out walking in the snow up above BTW)
And it got me thinking about what are the benefits of walking. So I did a little digging…
Sometimes it may not seem like it but heading out for a stroll is doing wonders for your body. Walking does way more for you than just reducing fat. It increases heart and lung fitness (always good) and it reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. How about strengthening your bones and improving your balance? Yes it does that. Or helping to manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes? Absolutely!
As Elle Woods once said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives your endorphins, endorphins make you happy, Happy people just don’t kill their husbands.” This ring true for all forms of exercise, including walking. A brisk 30 minute walk elevate your mood no end. From your chemical makeup changing in your brain to make you less irritable, to exposing yourself to natural sunlight helping to reduce the effect of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It also can be a wonderful social activity, killing two birds with one stone. Yay for friends and endorphins!
Good for the mind
I found this quite true for me. If you go for a walk by yourself (be it with headphones or without) your mind does wander. You think, you understand, you plan, you solve There’s no judgement, no friends or family to distract you, no deadlines and certainly no PBs. Just the breeze and a world of endless possibilities. There’s nothing else to do out there but move forward. Creativity flows from it. I have found it a great way to get out of myhead and then back into it again.
So if you’re like me and always felt that exercise needed to be this sweaty, red ball of grit and energy and constantly ppfft at the concept of going for a walk, try stretching those legs the next time we get a good day. It doesn’t have to be somewhere beautiful, it doesn’t have to be some big Sunday outing, it doesn’t have to be insta worthy. It doesn’t even have to be for very long. You might be surprised what you get out of it.
I met Emily about a month ago at a kid’s birthday party. That’s where we, parents, meet up these days… or during the coffee shop for morning fix. She asked if I would be okay to type an end of season blog having written my first one at the start of the season around February/March.
To be honest I’ve been trying to find the time since and now, well here goes…
Since February I’ve been training for the Castle Series first sprint triathlon in Gort, Co. Galway. Whoever is familiar with this, knows it is a series of triathlons based in castle grounds across Ireland, England and France. I couldn’t have picked better location! I highly recommend it and will be signing up again for the longer distance events in 2018. It wasn’t the best of weather in early May. The water was so cooold!! I was dreading the swim, and I wasn’t the only one. Plenty of lost souls threading water on the start line had that familiar ‘I am sh*tting it’ look, including yours truly. New wet suit, new goggles, new thoughts, will I manage the transitions?, will my legs feel like concrete blocks after the bike? Then ‘BANG!’ the gun fired and we were on, heads down in the murky water, the first experience of being swam over, kicked left, right and centre. Once you’ve come to terms with the initial shock, the next sensation is the lack of visibility, not helped by my normal eyesight running a close second to Mr. Magoo. The only saving grace was the ginormous orange inflatable course buoys. The first turn arrived and I realised my breathing had settled, my stroke lengthened and I kicked for the shore with all my might.
Out of the water, wet suit half down (careful!), run to T1, wet suit off, now hopping on one leg, helmet on, race belt on, bike shoes on, bike off the rack and I’m running to the start in 3 inches of the finest muck Ireland has to offer (see pic 1). Then back to earth, I couldn’t clip my shoes in and it was time for some foot stamping and cursing. Once I’m finally going on the bike it felt amazing. 21km passed so quickly, a quick energy gel in for that extra sugar kick and I’m cruising. T2, bugger, fell off the bike, the sweet kiss of concrete on my knee, there are children present, don’t swear. Bike racked, trainers on and now for a run off-road around the castle grounds for 4km. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good and I flew through the finish line at 1h 21min. My first tri (new lingo!) medal, wow, I was hooked.
Since then I’ve completed a sprint tri in Kilrush, Ennis, the Hell of the West in Kilkee (full Olympic distance, I did the 41km bike and 10km hill run) and the Castleconnell sprint tri. In meantime I’ve also done the Limerick half marathon, Tough Mudder (full 11 miles with obstacles along the way for good measure) and the Newport bike sportive 60km. Along with my road bike group we’ve completed two long rides around the lake in Killaloe. The first was in June with Group 2, averaging 22kph and more recently in September with Group 1, averaging 28kph, 8 lads and little ol’ me, the only woman! Wonderwoman, imagine the theme tune, haha. And I did my second Dublin marathon which sucked! Running did not come easily to me this year, but another one under my belt is ok for now.
Basically, my Summer consisted of 5-6 training days a week. Swimming in the lake or pool 3 times a week. Not running much, just twice a week while my son had his athletics but it felt like I was cycling constantly. Every Wednesday, evening sessions, 500m swim and stationary bike intervals afterwards, hill repeats.
Every Sunday morning session with the lads, 70-80-90km routes with a restorative coffee afterwards.
I do rowing and bike turbo sessions at home, often at 6am, before heading off to work or else at 9pm in the evening before heading to bed.
My home also seems to have turned into a mini gym. Bikes and a turbo trainer, Concept2 erg, chin-up bar, 3 sport bags always ready, one swim bag (indoor), one swim bag (wetsuits), and yet another packed specifically for each race. It’s funny but as I look around me it’s still the same now!!
Looking back you can get a bit rose-tinted but it wasn’t easy at all. In the middle of all the mayhem I started a new job in June, but I had to keep my old job as well, such is the modern world. So it was 2 jobs, an active 5 year old who was on ‘his’ summer holidays, entertaining, training, cooking, shopping, the lot. Don’t ask me how I did it by myself, I truly don’t know. I had my ups and downs, more than my fair share of complete meltdowns and plenty of sleepless nights.
But despite all this, or perhaps because of it, I learned to be organized like the CEO of multinational. Dinners were prepared in advance and child care always had to be planned well in advance based on my training schedule. Although food was quick I tried not to let that lower the standard of nutrition. I’m also a firm believer in organic produce and most meals consisted of meat (lamb and sirloin steak mostly), fish, tuna and lots of veg, particularly sweet potatoes and avocados. I found I was snacking constantly on nuts, dried fruit, crackers, quark (I had to look it up too), nut butters (yum!). Now when I think back, I often ended up having a second dinner around 10pm at night. It actually felt like I was eating constantly.
Despite all this, motivation for me was never an issue. Once I’d signed up for a race, that kept me going. The high I felt was amazing. Meeting like minded people at the events or even while out training. People for whom this lifestyle is our normal, is a tremendous feeling.
What’s for the future? Well, next year I plan on doing my first half Ironman, and all going well the year after my first full one. In order to prepare for the step up in class I am planning on hiring a coach to help me to train more smartly and effectively.
I am also hoping Santa will be kind and I’ll find a new carbon-fibre bike under the tree this year (no I’m not demanding at all!).
By the way, I can’t let the opportunity go by without mentioning how expensive it is to exercise in Ireland?
Membership fees, race fees, decent gear… thousands upon thousands of euro… but hey, who needs high heels anyway?!?!
A new reformer Pilates studio opened up in our tiny village in Killaloe, County Clare. And so three of the intrepid Bitchmittens bloggers decided we needed to get our fabulous arses over asap to give it a go. Which is why we found ourselves gathering at 6.30am for a pre-work introductory session of reformer Pilates with Roisin, who also happens to be a fully qualified physiotherapist. Swit swoo.
‘Clinical Reformer Pilates’ (as opposed to just regular Pilates) had been suggested to me by my spinal specialist, and my sports physio. I hurt my back about six months ago, and it’s just not getting better. So what is it? Well, ‘Clinical Pilates’ is delivered by a trained physiotherapist, who will have a detailed understanding of injury, recovery, treatment and movement. Reformer Pilates, is delivered via machines (rather bloody expensive machines, being several thousand a pop). But it’s a very safe, stable and effective way to rebuild strength after back injury, so I was delighted to have one open on my doorstep, and with the physio layer to boot.
Roisin’s studio has three such machines so the classes are, by nature of the numbers, all ‘personal training’. Every one gets individual attention. This was great for us though, because even though we’ve mastered a few different sports, we were all three of us Pilates virgins.
Personally, I was just keen to lie down again, it being 6.30am and all. For the first few minutes she talked us through how the machines work (I keep calling them beds!!). Basically there’s a sliding platform, a foot bar, and handles (that have foot handles or hand-handles) and we started out with really simple exercises lying on the beds. The resistance is provided by coiled metal springs, which you can adjust based on your requirements. Ruth of course went straight for hardcore toughness, which Rhona and I were content to take it a little easier 🙂
Over the course of an hour, we worked through arms, core, legs, (inner and outer) as well as a nice set of stretches and twists at the end. It was really calm and gentle, exactly what I needed at 6.30am, unlike the class Ruth dragged me to a few weeks ago which had me doing burpees five minutes after I got out of bed. Great class, but just TOO GODDAMN EARLY.
I loved this class because Roisin has a really calm demeanour, and explains everything brilliantly. For a morning class the music was just right, the room was lovely and the tempo of effort perfect. The next day I was pleasantly stiff, but unlike the first time I tried TRX, I didn’t have crippling DOMs (Delayed onset muscle soreness) for a week after. I can clearly see how the moves at greater resistance would be pretty intense, even though your not lepping around all that much. (But she did say something about a jumpboard, which was another attachment…) Hmmm.
All three of us found this class excellent. Ruth and Rhona I think found it a little too easy in patches, but then they are both extraordinarily strong in the leg. We paid €22 per person, which is good value for what amounts to personal training with a qualified physio on super expensive equipment. My back has felt pretty damn good all week, and I’m relieved that I can start my road back to more regular exercise in such a fun way. Test Beds, aka reformer Pilates get an A+ from me. There are reformer Pilates studios dotting up all over the country, as it is becoming quite a craze! Just remember, if you’re carrying injury, you might be better off looking for a studio that is physio led, or at least get some advice from a physio before you begin.
PS – Here’s Roisin’s page if you’re interested in checking it out:
While we occasionally get asked to review places, products and services, and we love the occasional freebie – this wasn’t one of those times, it’s an honest to goodness unsolicited review 🙂
I have sat down to write this post at least twenty times and re-written it closer to ten times. I have not been happy with any version so far. Not even this one. But I think I need to rip of the band-aid.
I think it is fair to say that I have been some what lacking in motivation with everything, training, writing and even cooking. The only thing I seem to have the motivation for is reading. Each day is simply, eat, work, read, sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.
I am currently over half way through another 12 weeks personal training course. But I don’t feel like I am progressing at all. Firstly, my personal trainer, Denise moved to newer pastures three weeks into the course. It was a bit of a struggle to hold back the tears on her last day. She was so lovely and chatty. Without her pestering me each week on whether I have attended all of my classes, I don’t feel like I’m pushing myself enough. I’m like ah sure its “Games of Thrones” tonight, that so much more important than going to a class, right! I am slacking, I know this but can’t seem to shake free from it. I haven’t even done a single session that wasn’t a personal training or class.
Each week I tell myself I am going do better, I am going behave. I will go to my classes. I need to focus but I just can’t seem to achieve it. It didn’t really help that I was on holidays for a week and half. The PT sessions are released for booking in week batches on the Tuesday the week before. All of the prime evening and morning sessions go so fast. You need to get on real quick if you want to get the slot you want. I had planned to do the training on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday once I was back but being over in France I completely forgot and didn’t get on until later and there was nothing. So, my one and half week break became a two week break.
Then last week again the bookings went so fast even though I was checking every hour waiting for them to be released. I only managed to get things booked for the weekend. But then ended going up home for my mother’s birthday instead. So over half way through and missing three weeks! My rhythm is broken and I don’t know how to fix it. It isn’t helped by lengthy recovery times after. My joints are aching something terrible for four or five days. I was so thankful that this week is going much better. But no my lower back is in agony.
Another thing I am struggling with is food. Those who know me knows my love affair with food. I love food. Food is emotion. It’s comfort, it’s exciting, it’s memory. Food can evoke so much. When I get homesick, I attempt to make my mum’s beef stew. Its never as good as hers. But it’s enough to tie me over. If I’m really bad and heading up to her soon I’ll put a request for it. While over in France for holidays, Pierre brought me to a Michelin star restaurant, Clovis. To say it was an amazing food experience is a massive understatement. I can’t wait to go back next year!
There was a moment earlier in the year, when my boss was selling her practice, that I considered possible doing a culinary course. I love cooking and blogging about cooking. There is so much I want to learn about, to understand flavours and textures better. It was a very tempting idea, but a risky one. What if I wasn’t actually good at it. What if I did have what it takes. If I hadn’t had a mortgage, I might of taken the plunge. Maybe one day I will.
But at the moment, I am not really cooking. My poor KitchenAid is sitting on the counter unused and unloved. My dinners of late have been very lazy. Just chicken or salmon with broccoli with sweet chilli sauce. While it is quite tasty, there isn’t anything exciting about it. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are just becoming monotonous. I long to get back into the kitchen and makes something new and exciting. But everything is hectic and busy. I hardly seem like I have had a moment to rest, a moment to breathe.
This week so far I have been moderately well behaved, I have taken my meds (most days), ate relatively well, been into the gym twice for two intense work outs. I was even inspired enough to make a new recipe, Garlic and Pepper Chicken Stir-fry. It was very tasty.
I do feel like giving up sometimes. Ever since my little face drop during the 5k back in March, my period has been consistently absence. I can’t help feeling sometimes that this isn’t gonna happen for me. Every passing month my belief is waning and I think that is where my lack of motivation is coming from.
A few weeks ago I injured my knee. Not in a terrible, life altering way; but in a sort of way that got me thinking about other forms of exercise. I couldn’t run, rowing is a bit difficult for everyday and I couldn’t just do cycling (’cause that shit hurts my bum!) so I decided to give swimming a go. It was something I loved to do as a kid. I was called a water baby from the age of 2. I just loved being in it. A pool, the sea, a puddle, the bath… you name it and I tried to swim in it.
But I had never really swam for fitness purposes. It’s always been about splashing, dunking, diving, bombing and lying at the bottom of the pool/ocean. So when it came to knowing what to do I was a little stumped. But 1 month in here’s what I’ve learned…
1: Like all other sports, proper gear is essential
Being a former leisurely swimmer, you know whilst on my holibobs and such, all my swim gear was frilly bikinis and fifties style skirted swimsuits! Gorgeous for a day of tanning oneself with a few minor dips in the pool to cool down but completely useless for actual rigorous work. I naively thought that I would not need Speedos. I was wrong. Having to fix myself every 5 mins was time consuming aaaaand having my boobs pushed up created ridiculous drag, those puppies needed to be pinned down! I also owned no goggles and after an hour of swimming you REALLY wished you owned some. Chlorine is a bitch and you sorta need to see where you’re going, especially with small kiddos not looking around. Tis best to dodge them!
2: Breathe as often as you want/can
Honestly, this one feels like it should be a no-brainer but so many people (myself included) do this! Holding your breath while swimming. Taking one maybe two gasps per length. WHY?!?!? You wouldn’t hold your breath doing any other sport! Imagine trying to run laps over and over again like that. BREATHE! (I’m looking at you Coriel). Swimming is an all body workout, constantly moving, pushing through water, heart rate raising. It’s proper cardio. You need that air. So take it! I always thought that I hadn’t mastered the special breathing needed for swimming, like there is some trick that I was missing. I would do a few laps and my chest would be tired. When I finally gave in and breathed every time my head was out of the water it all changed. I could swim for longer and I wasn’t getting worn out as quickly. There is no special secret, there is no trick.
3: Swimming is deceptively tiring
I think this surprised me the most. I am a sweaty person, particularly when I’m training. Perspiring all of the God damn place! And I used to associate sweating and red hot cheeks with how hard my workout was. Obviously, it’s really hard to perspire in water. So when I started swimming for training purposes I was concerned I wasn’t going to get a proper workout from it. I was constantly adding with something. Running and a swim, cycling and a swim, weights and a swim. Then one day I decided to swim the equivalent of 2k in the pool, (112 lengths). I was like this should be graaaaaaaaaand. I was so wrong. Ver wrong. By the end I was so tired I could even bring myself to sit in the sauna. Or to sit in the jacuzzi. I just wanted to lie down. I felt like I had ran for days but I was not sweaty and I was not hot; I was just tired and so weak. Swimming is no joke, no picnic.
4: It’s really fucking good for you
Coincidentally, TIME magazine had a whole thing about exercise in one of their latest issues (the one with Leo Varadkar on the cover I think). Aerobic exercises (such as swimming and running) seem to be best for our brain’s health. All due to having to pump more blood to the brain, our biggest user of oxygen (again peeps, breathe!) It helps increase “brain-derived neurotrophic factor,” this protects AND repairs brain cells. Aerobic exercises also can help to lower the chances of memory loss and Alzheimer’s, even if the person has a parent with Alzheimer’s or if a person is carrying the gene for it. Such a good reason to get the budgie smugglers on!
5: Swimming is making me a more confident swimmer
Ok this one sounds stupid, but go with it. When I was a kid, our school organised swimming lessons for PE for like 3 years. We learned everything. And from starting to swim regularly again I’ve realised that these classes have massively benefited me. Until now I just assumed everyone could swim with ease. Not so… I’m watching women and men in their fifties learning how to swim. And I’m impressed, it must be so scary after all that time. It’s something that comes naturally to me, easily to me. It’s a skill everyone should have. And I think it’s easier to learn that shit when you’re young. So peeps with kids, get them in the pool and teach them to swim. And if you’re all grown up and can’t swim, learn, now. It’s so lovely and worth learning. You never know when it’ll come in handy
Oh and speedos are not flattering.
Running is often met with a great deal of groaning, moaning, complaining. People don’t like it! It seems repetitive, tiring and loooong. When I discuss running I’m often told that people would rather do something more fun with their time, that exercise shouldn’t be a chore. And I whole heartedly agree. Exercise should be fun! But running is fun, we’re all just looking at it wrong.
The other day I was thinking about all the times we run (or could run) and not think of it. When it’s an asset and a not chore. I thought I would list them to see if I can’t shed some of the running’s bad rap.
Running from the bedroom to the bathroom when you’re naked.
Running after your kids.
Running away from your kids.
Running down a long corridor in a hotel while semi-intoxicated.
Running to the loo.
Running to shelter whenever it rains.
Running to get that thing you forgot when you’re next at the check-out.
Running because you’re scared.
Running because you’re giddy. (Is this just me???)
Running after a bus, train, taxi, that friend who promised you a lift!
Running into the sea because walking is just not an option at that temperature. Hello Ireland!
Running after your dog when he’s spotted the local cat.
Running after your dog when he’s noticed someone eating.
Running after your dog because he’s found a herd of deer.
Running out to the car to give your husband his lunch when he’s leaving in the morning.
Running to work yourself because you’re late (again!)
Running to get shotgun (of a car) because let’s face it, nobody abides by the laws of shotgun.
Running to stop your nephew getting hit by a swing.
Running to win your league’s rounders tournament.
Running to de-stress.
Running to get the last seat.
Running to your family at the airport because you missed them soooooo much.
Running down hills because it’s super easy.
Running on flat surfaces and feeling like a plane taking off (seriously, still only me???)
Running so fast you feel like you are going to keel over.
Running when you’ve gotten in trouble.
I am sure there are many more instance where running is beneficial and, what more, lovely. If possible, it’s something that should be embraced. It can be hard when you are pushing yourself but remember, exercise isn’t always about pushing yourself. It’s also about living your life, getting things done, feeling free and de-stressing.
So enjoy you’re run, even it’s just to the the loo.
Firstly, my apologies for the lack updates. I had been put on a training ban by my doctor while an investigation into what happened with my face during the 5k took place (my face dropped on one side half way through the race). This meant I had no training and nothing really to blog about for two weeks. And then once back training, I spent a good couple of hours writing my next blog post only for it to go missing. Like I can see it in the recent items but when I click on it, it says it’s not there but there is no sign of it in the trash or any other folders. You are just gonna have to take my word for it that it was an awesome read! Hopefully, this re-write will be at least half as good.
I was rather upset with having to lay off the training for two reasons. Firstly, I didn’t want to break my stride. As a really lazy person, I was quite nervous about being idle for any period of time. Afraid my bad habits would rear their ugly heads. My doctor had really stressed the need to take it really easy until I got the all clear. Secondly, I was half way through my six week intense kickstarter at the Womens Fitness Gym and I really didn’t like the idea of losing out on any of the weeks. I mean money is a bit tight at the moment and I knew I wouldn’t be in a position at the moment to do another round for the moment. I was going to have to save up for it and I have few other demands at the moment. But worry I should not have. I got on to the gym to explain what happened and they allowed me to suspend the program until I got the all clear. So I only had to worry about reverting to my lazy ways. Eeek!
Eleven hours, three trips to have an MRI, half a meeting with the doctor before I was taken out for the second failed MRI, a lot of miscommunication between the medical staff, one negative pregnancy test, one rushed final consultation and a rather vague explanation was my experience in CUH. At the end of the day, I left really rather frustrated about our health system but with a letter in hand saying I was fit to resume training. The explanation was it is unlikely to have been a Transient Ischemic Attack (or a mini stroke) but it possibly could be the training.
I was prescribed some blood thinners and cholesterol medications to avoid any reoccurrence. I don’t like taking meds and I try to avoid them when I can. The best thing about trying for kids was no more pill. But then there was the PCOS and underactive thyroid and I have proven to be not the best a taking them. My bloods in the previous month had shown good levels for cholesterol, and with all my training surely they could have only have gotten better. So at the behest of my mother, I’m not taking the cholesterol until I speak to my own doctor.
Before the tests, I wasn’t worried about what had happened. But now, I was. The vague explanation had scared me some what. Would happen again? Would it be worse? Why is my neck feeling sore? Did it always twinge like that? I felt like I was overanalysing everything. Could not tell was there actually pain or was I imagining it. My session back with Denise was on a Sunday and the closer I got to it the more “the fear” grew. While on the bike warming –up, I didn’t even notice that I was crushing it at a level I used struggle before. I was so focused internally, am I feeling dizzy? Was this room always spinning? I should leave, just go home. And then there was Denise, “Where the heck have you been?” I sheepishly explained and she responded with, “we’ll take it easy so.” Though I did proudly tell her I did the run in 34 minutes and that earned me a high five.
Even though we scaled it back and took it very easy by comparison of what she normally puts me through. She is doesn’t go easy on you normally but doesn’t kill you either. She’s great for the banter and the giggles, which makes the session seem to fly by. It’s why I keep going back to her. But today, even with her pulling me right back from my previous level of intensity, everything was a struggle. Things I was smashing a couple weeks ago, were a struggle with the light weight. I mean it was easier than my very first but it was one of my worst sessions. I didn’t even make it the whole way through. I had to skip the kettlebell swings, the strain on my back from not doing them correctly was quite severe. (I don’t know what it is I just can’t get the technique right with those.) And the last set, well, that had to be abandoned even though I tried to solider on. Denise was telling me to stop as I had gone all grey. I put down that 5kg plate so fast and ran to the nearest bathroom to say hello to my breakfast. That session couldn’t have gone worse. But I was back in the swing and for me that was the main thing.
My fitness level had clearly taken a big hit, but the fear remained. I didn’t do a single class in the week to come for fear of overdoing it. I had a PT session with Michelle on Wednesday as Denise was off. And that went well-ish though my legs were trembling something terrible and she made me do a plank. I geared up to do my own session on Saturday before my weigh-in, but I missed judged the time and wouldn’t have had enough time and then chickened out to do it after. I was down a pound in the weigh-in but that more muscle wastage rather than actual weight loss. Though Lorraine advised with everything that I had gone through I should consider that a win. She advised me to take it easy and only do a session or class if I really feel up to it.
I did come to the conclusion that running the 5k at the pace I did with the little running training I had done might have been the main factors in what happened. I decided that once my current cycle was up that would try to focus more on the running training and supplement it one or two classes at the gym to shake it up a bit. While finances did play a role in not being in a position to actually do another session, should I have been able to afford it I would still opt for this plan.
While I do need to take care of myself and not push myself way out of my comfort zone, I can’t let “the fear” imped my process. I mustn’t use it to excuse myself from pushing myself and allowing my laziness to slink back in.