June 20th (juneathon-ish) – in my defence, it’s been a couple of long days…

Another long day and another day where exercise would have to be done after 9pm. This would be the third or fourth day in a row for late exercising and frankly I’m just a bit tired. Nothing bad, I just really want to sit down, put my feet up and watch something on the telly. We’ve hit the fourth season of Battlestar Galactica in our very belated catch up, and things are just getting interesting (again).

This all comes down to not working at home this week. I can’t really do an early morning run or trip to the gym because Jude’s out at 6.30 and I need to be looking after the kids. At the moment it feels like the whole day is taken up with things and there’s a lot to be done before heading away next week.

So, Battlestar Galactica was good. Two episodes, back to back. I would have watched a third, but Jude had to go to bed. It’s our wedding anniversary tomorrow, along with a presentation and meeting in the morning and more youth zoning in the afternoon. It’s going to be another tricky one. Perhaps I can make things up with the Juneathon gods by putting in some extra work on Saturday.

Day 20: No running, no exercises. I claim my first day of excuses.

Juneathon day 19 – it’s been a long day, that’s my excuse

If you’ve already come to the conclusion that I did nothing, you’re wrong. I just didn’t do much. A mile on the running machine when I got home. It was past 10pm, so that’s good enough in my book.

It’s been one of those days where I was up and preparing work stuff just after six; getting the kids ready between 7 and 8 as normal and then the day should have unfolded nicely.

To be fair, there were only a couple of minor hiccups. When I dropped the kids off at school, Lily had left her book bag at home. While I was frustrated at the time, it was understandable (a bit). Wednesday is running club day, so she was dressed in her running gear and was clutching her uniform in a bag. The last thing she was thinking about was her book bag – despite being reminded, at least three times (as is the norm).

So I had to go back home and get the bag and deliver back to school. Before you think “why on Earth did you do that, Steve?”, Jude and I had spent what felt like an age last night getting Lily to do her homework. I wasn’t going to let all that be wasted.

With all the preparing for the first meeting and generally sorting the children out, I hadn’t eaten any breakfast myself. So I stopped off and grabbed something to scoff and drink while heading over to Bolton. It was tasty, but there was a bit of a cardboard cup malfunction which resulted in hot coffee splashing down my lovely clean shirt. I stopped off at the M&S at Bolton Middlebrook. I got a new shirt (nice) and a lovely new sun hat – Ideal for Glastonbury next week, so it’s not all bad.

Meetings went without a hitch. Back in time to pick up kids, sort out piano lessons, Tai-Kwondo get some dinner at Morrisons and scoff just in time to go back to Wigan for a meeting at the Youth Zone.

That was interesting and useful, but it meant that it was very nearly 10pm when I finally got home and was thinking about something to do for Juneathon. I had gone through the whole day without an obvious time when I could have sneaked in any decent exercise.

Determined to do something, I went on the running machine. My left knee felt as if I’d been bending it backwards. This was frustrating because my knees are quite bendy and will allow quite a bit of backward movement. Having said that, my right groin felt like it was a bit achy too. So I stuck to a slow one mile (11 minutes 50 seconds). Enough to raise the heart rate and get me a bit sweaty and smelly. Good enough to class as a Juneathon exercise.

Tomorrow and Friday are looking similarly busy. There’s a really big part of me thinking that we’re getting so close to Glastonbury that I could throw in the towel now and prepare for a week of lolling around in the mud. To that end, I’ve enjoyed a pint of perry after running, but I’ll try and get at least another couple of days exercise in before I have to call it a day for June.

Juneathon day 18 – Edge Hill Gym, a bit

Following yesterday’s failure at getting into the gym, I bit the bullet and upgraded to full, premium, community membership of the local Uni gym. I think that it’s still a bargain, considering that I can get there in 10 minutes in the car (and probably the same on the bike, I should try it sometime).

The day has been insanely busy. After some time Skyping this morning, then visiting the nurse for a checkup, I had to pop into Keytech to help with some IIS stuff, then on to One Stop Hire to see Steve there, then on to Wigan Youth Zone. I had planned to do some crystal reports after picking up the kids at 3:30. Some bits at WYZ meant that we had to arrange for the kids to go to after school club, and I only got back to Ormskirk at around six. All good stuff, but it felt like a packed day.

The visit to the nurse was for a bit of a check-up. As I’m so very nearly 45 I thought it would be a good idea if I have plans of running the Birmingham half marathon.

All the blood measurements in the checkup came back good, with obvious improvements in cholesterol and fat and other stuff I didn’t understand. We were able to pin this squarely on the exercise, so this was brilliant. A little bit of weight loss as well, which always helps. However, it seems that my concerns about breathing (blogs passim) were legit, with my lungs apparently at 50% of their normal capacity. I’ve been prescribed some stuff that I remember from when I was a scrawny asthmatic child. Let’s see how it goes. Another check-up at the end of July to keep an eye on things.

Jude was late home, so by the time we had eaten dinner it was bed time for the kids, and by the time I’d then got changed it was nearly 9pm. As the Edge Hill gym closes at 10pm, I jumped in the car for a quick bit of the training programme.

I got in about 30 minutes: 10 minutes running (one and a bit km, I made a note, but on my sheet there); 2000m on the rowing machine in about 9.30, and then 10 minutes on this summit machine thing which seems to only exist to turn your legs into jelly. By the time I’d done those, along with some administrative stuff at the start around the upgrade and rearranging my weights session, it was time to leave.

Not a big session, but it counts, I think. I used my exciting new inhaler – The Easyhaler – which is weird and feels just wrong, but still… it didn’t feel like it was doing anything, but I was able to breathe quite normally throughout the session, so that seems like an improvement over recent exercising. Roll on day 19.

Juneathon day 17 – epic gym fail

A couple of months ago I joined the gym at Edge Hill University with the intention of going in the daytime. This was easy when I work at home because I can arrange meetings and other bits of work around the gym. However, it is trickier when I’m working most of the daytime at a client site – currently the Wigan Youth Zone.

So it was a little before 9pm when I could try and squeeze in some exercise and I wanted to go to the gym to try out some of my new exciting training programme.

However, when I signed up a while back, it turns out I’d thought that off-peak would be most sensible, what with being able to go in the daytime. Stood helpless without the requisite £1.20 to get into the gym with an off-peak card, I had to turn tail and head home. Tomorrow, I upgrade to full membership.

By the time I was home it was feeling very late. So I tried to squeeze in half an hour on the treadmill and the rowing machine: 1 mile (in 11:33 minutes) and then 17 minutes on the rowing machine.

Juneathon day 16 – sore legs

My legs have been creasing me today. They haven’t really settled down since visiting the gym on Thursday, perhaps it’s because I’ve not given them a chance to rest before doing something else.

Today was no exception. We went for a trip to Quarry Bank Mill today with Aunty Kaggs, John and Gill. All very lovely but included quite a bit of walking uphill and downhill. My legs were definitely still aching, but I couldn’t justify going up down the steps backwards (a trick I learned from my accomplished running friend, Bern)



Happily fed and watered after picnic at Quarry Bank Mill

I think that I’m also still a little tired after Friday night’s shenanigans. Lorna has posted a little background on her Juneathon blog here. I can’t really add any more to it, except to say that I didn’t indulge in the vodka. Maybe I’m getting a little old for the late nights.

The best I could do this evening was two miles in 25 minutes on the treadmill. My legs didn’t feel quite so sore when running but I was tired, and there was the last episode of Battlestar Galactica Season Three to watch.

15th June – sooo sleepy

I can hardly keep my eyes open. Lorna was up and we ran today. Slowly and briefly thanks to last night’s film watching, dancing and drinking.

We ran 2k down the A59 and then 2k back. Lorna ran off ahead on the way back, I was very slow because I’d forgotten to take my ventolin and could hardly breathe at anything faster than a snail’s pace.

Still, we’re all alive and tomorrow will hopefully be better.

Juneathon day 14. What has become of me?

My happy late afternoon plans of a run followed by beer followed by some LCD Soundsystem at the Camp and Furnace were dashed yesterday, when I was told that I needed to be in a meeting at 2pm, “which could go on for hours”.

Consequently, today’s running plans had to change, and I was up shortly before six to head out. I headed out, in the rain. Yes, I’ve been out in the rain and the snow, but not at six. This seemed one step more hardcore than previous inclement runs.

I forgot to take any ventolin and I started too fast, so I quickly ran out of breath. Inevitably, I could only potter around 4k before getting back to wake the kids. The run wasn’t helped by my body aching in all new places after my gym session yesterday.

A slightly unsatisfactory outing, but more than made up for by getting up and out bright and early. Tomorrow might be harder, if I’m out until the early hours.

I’ll put the garmin stats here later (when I’ve uploaded them!)

Juneathon day thirteen. First tentative foot in the gym.

First things first. Today’s session at the gym means that I’ve exercised in one way or another for 11 days running (or not), making it my longest streak of proper exercise, ever. As has been well documented here already, I’ve had foot problems and so I’ve been taking it easy on the old plates of meat. However, it hasn’t stopped me doing other things and now I’m in unchartered waters. Anything could happen. Maybe I’ll implode on day 12, I just don’t know.

So today I had my rearranged appointment at the gym. Planned as a one and a half hour extravaganza of exercise and planning – it didn’t fail to deliver.

I joined Edge Hill Uni fitness suite the other month because I wanted to get some proper training in to complement my ad-hoc running. As part of the membership you can have a session with a personal trainer each week. Sam is the unfortunate soul who drew the short straw and got me.

We started with a 30 minute chat about goals, exercising and running. This guy appeared to be fitter than almost everyone else that I know with the exception of Danny, my cousin, and Matthias; so I felt a bit silly explaining about how I signed up for a half marathon in October and how I think I need a bit of proper training. He seemed to take this in his stride and we started to map out a training programme that involved a lot of aerobic / cardio-vascular endurance and weights. And running. Lots of running. Although to be fair, less than I’d expected.

The principle appears to be: first get me knackered on the treadmill and rowing machines… and then get me doing some endurance exercises on a summit machine and a cross-training thing. It seems to do the trick. It took a long time, though; and so we’ve got another session booked for next week to go through the weights.

Sam seems like a decent bloke. He organises the Monday running club and seems switched on with the training programmes. We agreed that we would have a session each week where I can go through my runs and exercises and we can make sure that I’m sticking to the plan and making progress. I rather like the idea of rocking up in a couple of weeks proudly showing off the results of my planned cock run. Hopefully he won’t take it the wrong way.

In the changing room after the session there was a bloke there, probably late fifties, early sixties who engaged me in conversation. Normally I would keep well and truly to myself, but it turned out that Sam had told him about my training.

“Hey kid, I was once like you.”, he (sort of) said, “Middle-aged and unfit with dreams of running”.

He went on to tell me how he took up running and training at Edge Hill a few years ago. How he’d worked with Sam and how he recently completed 11 marathons around Europe. It was all rather inspirational.

It feels like a new chapter in the training and in preparing for the run in Birmingham. All very positive.

Juneathon day twelve – the key to cross-training

Today I was just going to walk the kids to school, walk back and claim that as my Juneathon activity, thank you very much. That would be lovely.

No… apparently this is as bad as trying to claim a stroll around Tesco as your activity (which sounds like a legit activity to me). My motivational guru pointed me in the right direction. “Get off your arse and do a proper run”, I was told. And so I did (well, a bit).

Just before lunch, I went out for a quick 3k down to the Beaufort and back again to test how the foot was doing and to try and get used to keeping to a steady, sensible pace unlike yesterday. All went well apart from one point where my headphones cable tried to wrap itself around my neck and strangle me – how it did that I still don’t know, but I had to hoik my phone out the pocket, rearrange everything and carry on; all the while plodding down the street.

When I got home my troubles began. My key wasn’t in my pocket. Instead, my pocket was inside out flapping around my bum. I’d held my phone in my hand after the cable-neck-attack and not noticed the flappy warning sign.

I walked along the A59 looking for my keys – a hopeless pursuit. By that point they were either kicked into a field, crushed under a lorry or in the hands of a scally who is right now trying all the tens of thousands of doors that it might possibly fit.

I walked past where I turned around and on to Alan and Ann’s house to see if they had our spare key. They had looked after the cat and the rats the other week and I was sure they had one.

Alan was just about to head out to some local politics gig (I think) But he took me in, showed me pity and made me a cuppa. We had a catch up, I got the key and Alan very kindly drove me back to my house. Yay! All’s well that ends well, I thought. Went to open the door and the key didn’t fit. Alan had given me the wrong key. I didn’t notice because, hey, it’s the spare key that gets passed around friends and family and I very rarely see it – Jude does most of that useful, practical stuff.

Another brief, hopeless walk along the A59 and it’s time to go and get the children. So decked out in my running kit I jumped on the bike – no helmet (very very very bad) because that’s inside the house, and I’m at the school ten minutes later. Cadged the use of a friend’s phone so that I can contact Jude and ask her to cancel Lily’s piano lesson and then walked back home with the kids.

If you’re wondering, a lot of the walking is because Jude’s car is in the garage where the repair is turning into a complete nightmare. It’s been there for ten days now and I think it’ll be in there for another ten. Jude needed my car today to pick up Aunty Karen who flew in from Australia this afternoon.

We then had an hour to kill, so I played football with the kids and ate ice lollies from the freezer in the garage.

And then, like angels floating in on a cloud to save us, Jude and Karen appeared on the drive – with keys, that worked. Thank god. It was only 4:30, three hours after I’d realised I’d lost the key.

The rest of the day has been lovely. It’s been Jude’s birthday today – a big one – her thirteenth prime number. These things need celebrating and with her sister freshly over from Oz we went out to Pizza Express in our newly obtained courtesy car.

Alls well that finally ends well. Much walking, a bit of cycling and a bit of running today. Runkeeper tells me that it’s 13.3km, but I didn’t put everything in, so it’s something higher than that.

A summary of activities:
* walked to school and back
* ran to the beaufort and back
* walked to Alans
* cycled to the school
* walked back from the school
* played football in the back with the children

Here are the Garmin stats for the run.

Oh, the downside is that my foot hurts again. I’m off to the gym in the morning, but I’ll have to keep an eye on that one.

Plus I’ve just read that this tale of woe apparently inspired Lorna Walker to go out and run today. Goodness knows how the knowledge that one of her friends has been locked out of his house and is scrambling around the streets of Burscough and Ormskirk can be classed as “motivational”. However, it certainly throws a different light on the day’s activities.

Juneathon day 11. A teeny tiny runette.

Lots done today, this morning was spent supping coffees at Caffe Nero and working through Youth Zone stuff. Some of the coding for the system I’m working on has been done wrong by a colleague and it was slightly disheartening to have to work through that. However, it was good to go through things with Robert and others. I could quite easily adopt the place as my third ‘home’ office (after the kitchen table and Puddletown Pirates).

This afternoon was a whirl of skypes, plans and getting stuff done. While Jude took Lily to go cross-country running.

Inspired by Lily’s venture and perhaps more by the awesome run by “academicontherun” today, I thought I’d give my foot a test on the road to see how it goes. Just a short plod down the long mile (to the Beaufort) and back again.

More skyping this evening meant that it was past 9 when I left the house and after about 2k I had a crunching stitch and was losing breath. Probably as much to do with the pace of about 6 mins per km than having just eaten. So my last km was a bit of a walk and run affair. That pace felt fine for the first couple of km, but is much faster than I’ve run in the past; so was perhaps ill-judged.

Not the most tremendous of runs as a first venture out, but that doesn’t matter, I’m really pleased to have gone out and pleased that my foot feels fine. If it’s ok tomorrow I’ll give it a little further, perhaps at a slower pace.

Garmin stats here.

And the video for Haim, ‘Falling’. Quite fun as a first running song.