Saturday, 29 October 2011

White van man

Not sure if I should feel flattered or offended by the attention I receive from white van men while out running. I can't quite understand what motivates the leers and beeps on their horns as the last thing I would describe my running get up as is seductive.

With my hair scraped and pinned back to stop it, flopping wet and sweaty in my eyes, my body encased in wicking synthetic fibre, my legs in skin tight leggings and my feet rammed into well worn, muddy trainers I am hardly glamour model material. Yet still the sight of me running along beside the road seems to get the white van man hot under the collar.

Perhaps I should be grateful as in my normal life as a 40-year-old mum of four I never illicit so much as a wolf whistle from a building site teeming with men, but don a fluorescent running anorak and suddenly I am Princess Leia in a gold bikini rolled into Ursula Andress emerging from the waves in Dr No. Either that or the white van man is so bored and frustrated by the London traffic that he is driven to blast his horn at anything moving faster than the speed of treacle and I shouldn't flatter myself.

Still I think on the whole I will take a compliment where I can and see those horn blasts and lewd comments as reward for all the hard work I have done sculpting my size 10 figure from what was left after birthing four boys.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Running round in circles

As I might have predicted given my obsessive nature I ended up at the gym today despite my gammy leg. After nine months of being put through my paces by my angel of a personal trainer, the tall, dark and super fit Mr A, I have finally be cast out all alone, due to lack of funds to pay for my one-to-one training habits.

The result is that I decided to give a home grown (or at least internet researched) circuit a try. In the end I opted for the one that looked simplest and therefore least likely to make me look a tit. It is a straightforward mix of step work and easy lifts and exercises. Surely even I couldn't cock it up too badly?

Hmm, well if I gloss over the incident with the step - I thought it should be higher but couldn't for the life of me work out how to make it so, in the end I ended up breaking one off the feet off in frustration and then having to frantically stick it back on before any of the gym staff noticed. I am sure Jane Fonda never had these types of difficulties.

Moving swiftly on the idea is to step for two minutes and then do a set of weights. So far, so easy peasy. A minute into my stepping routine I was red faced, sweating and tripping over the step. This was not the walk in the park I was anticipating. After two minutes a Niagara of sweat was dripping off me and I was seriously regretting setting myself slap bang in the middle of the quickest route to the water fountain.

Every time anyone wanted a drink they passed me and did a horrified double-take at this sweaty mess of a woman leaping about in a crazed fashion on a far too low step. I rammed in my headphones and attempted to ignore the looks of pity and shock being shot my way by everyone who passed by.

On to bicep curls - at which point I realise that I have severely overestimated my capabilities and selected weights I can hardly lift. I persevere rather than let on to my error to the growing crowd of parched gym members who appear to need a drink every 20 seconds or so. I will have to start charging if they don't stop staring.

Eventually I complete my set of 12 lifts and nonchalantly swap my weights over ready for next time. Then it's back onto the step for more bouncing around, during which I can't help thinking that I really do need to upgrade my sports bra.

Next is lunges, thank goodness something I can do. Kettlebells in hand I commence my ministry of funny walks across the gym, gritting my teeth every time some idiot decides to stop and have a chat right in my path. Am tempted to drop a bell on their foot, but feel it may result in me being barred.

More wobbles on the step, and on to over head presses. Note to self, next time wear long sleeved top as bingo wings may scare the horses. And they certainly terrify all those toned 20somethings who I am sure are silently swearing they will never end up looking like me.

By now am flopping around on the step, falling over it and generally making a serious workout into a slapstick comedy. Final exercise squats. Well no one can make those look elegant, and as I push out my bum in the manner of a comedy chicken I just hope that the end result is prettier than the process it takes to get there.

At the end of three sets you could wring me out and I will definitely have to launder my eight-year-old's purloined jacket that I grabbed to cover up on the way out. Still fingers crossed the scales will finally be persuaded to slide downwards after all my hard work and tomorrow really is a day off as I have to complete the ultimate challenge - a day with the kids.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Ouch I've been bitten by the racing bug

Went for a run today after a hard session at the gym yesterday. Big mistake. I knew I'd felt a small twinge in my thigh on the torture instrument cum abductor, but as is my usual approach I ignored it and hey, presto it went away. Only to reappear about 40 minutes into my run when I was another good 40 minutes away from home.

It's a tricky choice whether to grind to a halt and hobble home, or limp on back at as smart a pace as possible just to get back asap. In the end I opted for the latter option, but by the end my thigh was not happy. In fact I was very glad to bump into an old friend and stop for a chat and a gentle stroll at the end of the run as I was worried that something my twang catastrophically if not.

Still it is a while till my next race, but I have now entered the Kingston Breakfast Run, which given that I live in North London is sure to mean a disgustingly early start, but at least I can blame any poor performance on that. Thing is ever since I was bitten by the racing bug in my first 5K Race for Life, I have found myself wasting far too much time browsing potential races and wondering how long it will take for my husband's patience to run thin as he is left holding the fort - and the four boys - on yet another weekend morning as I dash off to run another race.

But you just can't beat the buzz of testing yourself against other runners. Naturally some whizz off into the distance leaving you for dust, but I console myself that most of them haven't birthed four children and that explains their speed (please don't disabuse me of this fact as it will just depress me), but the ones who interest me are the ones who are just a little bit quicker than me. If I can overtake one of those I have had my eye on since the start then I can really feel good about myself - never mind if he or she looks older, more unfit or downright ill, I will still pat myself on the back as I huff and puff past them.

Perhaps I have finally begun to unearth the competitive nature that has hitherto lain dormant within me. It certainly never reared its head in my youth when I famously told my PE teacher: "I would rather die of a heart attack when I am old than ever pick up a hockey stick". Of course back then old looked a long way off, whereas now it is a whole lot closer, though I must admit a hockey stick still doesn't hold that much appeal.

Twinging thigh probably means a day off tomorrow, but I will be back on the road as soon as the old girl is up to it again.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Run away with me.....

I suppose I should introduce myself, it would only be polite, although I think I have said all that needs to be said by way of introduction in my 'About me' box - just take a look on the right hand side of your screen. As you can see I am no expert when it comes to running. In fact I come over all inadequate when I speak to anyone who has finished a marathon, let alone done it quickly.

I used to run, years ago, before I was encumbered with children, but that was only ever a trundle around the park. I wish now that I had realised how much fun running could be back in the days when I had all the time in the world to devote to it, rather than now when I try to slot it in around keeping the family happy, fed and entertained. I dream of being able to disappear for hours on end seeing just how far I could run without collapsing, but then I remember that I have to get the dinner on.

Of course this may all be a fantasy in any case, as perhaps my 25-year-old self could have run forever without creaking to an embarrassing halt, but my 40-year-old self might not be quite so accommodating. In fact it has been fun to compare notes with my fellow middle aged running mates as to which bits of us click, ache and give out the most. I have a troublesome hip and a clicky knee, while others have weak backs, twinges in the hamstrings and cramps in their feet.

Yet I think that perhaps what I can bring to the party now that it is a more sedate affair of G&Ts and smart canapes, rather than cider and a bag of chips, is a steely determination not to give up. When I was in my 20s I ran for fun, and to keep vaguely fit, now I feel as if I have something to prove. Not to other people, but to myself. That I can achieve this goal that I have set myself, and that I WILL pass the finish line faster than last time, or I will run further next time. I guess that over 40 I want to prove their is life in the old dog yet.

I am hoping that through my blog I can share my experiences and perhaps pick up tips from more seasoned runners. Either way I am hoping it will help me to record my painful journey to my first half marathon and beyond.....