Artlink 8th December

Met in Edinburgh with the Artlink tribe. They’d been to the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena the previous week, which I had missed due to illness. They were telling me how it was, and I saw the photos of their climbing experience. Was really disappointed to have missed it, and delighted when Annabel announced that we could go back for maybe 5 sessions in the new year for more climbing.

The main way they had documented the experience was through stills, though I wasn’t sure if perhaps Lee had been filming it too. Have got an idea in my head about a low fi animation I’d like to make of fineliner drawings of a person climbing a route. I’d edit out everything other than the person, and the drawings will be of each limb movement, as the climber ascends. Was wondering how I could get the photos to have enough info in them as the climber gets higher and higher and further and further away on the wall. Would be good but difficult for the photographer to ascend at a similar pace to the climber. Not sure how we could do that (on a cherry picker?).

I noticed (and remembered from climbing in the past) how important hands, knots and legs are in the ascent and then how scary it can feel leaning out and letting go of the face to abseil back down. Really want to go!

Intervals, 7th December

Another Jog Scotland homework session with Hazel. Didn’t have my go faster wacky socks on though. Ran up at the loch for a total of 19 mins, so short session consisting of 5 mins jog 6x intervals of 30secs sprint, 1 min jog or brisk walk, 5 mins jog to cool down. Hazel had missed out on a few of the previous speed training homework we had done due to illness, so found it quite testing. I managed ok but could have maybe pushed a bit more. Was a mild day, and we went for a cup of tea afterwards at the Loch cafe.

Tested out a new bit of kit – a Fitbit Surge. Was quite handy and have been experimenting with it’s features this week. My friends Cal and Ali have one each too and we’ve connected so will be able to compare results. Will discuss as find out more about it.

HIIT the Spot 6th December

Was feeling much better by Tuesday and went to HIIT straight from school drop off. The session was intense, I would say harder than normal. 30 jump lunges, 60 press ups, 90 tricep extensions, 120 squats, 150 mountain climbers. Felt DOMs for 2 days after. Hoping it’ll have eased off by tomorrow. Exhausted by the end of it.

Monday 5th December

Ran with Rosie Schofield again on Monday. Was once again a cold frosty day, and the pavements were again a bit icy, so care was needed. Rosie took me on a similar route to last time which was mostly along cycle tracks in Dunfermline, and pretty relaxed. We ran about 6k, and then walked the last hill back up Coldingham Place. Was a little bit lacking in energy due to the remains of my cold, and my lungs were irritated by the cold air and I didn’t feel the benefit until after the run.

Was good getting out in the daylight though and felt like a battle against the icy conditions. Enjoyed it in retrospect. Also enjoying getting to know Rosie a bit better too.


5K Cramond Park run

Sooo I was still a bit under the weather with the cold, but gee-d myself up and was definitely not going to miss the Pitreavie Striders 5K graduation run on 3rd December! Complete with wacky knee high sports socks curtesy of Hazel C, we met up with the group and did the run. I had a chat with Hazel beforehand to warn her I wouldn’t be on fire, but would be taking it slightly easy. She was fine about that, and although we jogged the whole thing at a slower than normal pace, we still managed to get a time of 33:50. I was pretty happy with that as when we have timed our usual runs we have been around 36mins so not sure what happened there really! Maybe it was the socks.

Our other half’s and kids had been cheering us on outside the boardwalk cafe on Cramond’s promenade, so that was nice. Though Hazel said quite rightly that it’s not as if it was the furthest we’d ever run, having completed many 5k runs in the lead up to it. (And I have run up to 17k in the past). So their cheering seemed a bit pointless (though nice!). But we had a sense of achievement after the event.

But later that day, when the stats came out regarding the race, and we saw that we were in about the last 50 people of 400 runners we were both a bit deflated and I said I’d like to get under 30mins next time. And Hazel had had similar thoughts. So we agreed that we would work on speeding up over the next 10 weeks.





Jog Scotland 27/11/2016

Woke up with a bad cough and feeling a bit ropey. Was supposed to be going up to Townhill Loch for a training session with the Ready Steady Go Pitreavie! crowd part of Jog Scotland before our race next Saturday. I knew Hazel was planning on walking around, as she’s still rough with the lurgy so I thought I’d join her. However she texted to say she wasn’t well enough. So I called off too. Just as well – the cold air would have gone for my chest. But I really missed it. Saw the photos on the Facebook page this afternoon and wished I’d been well enough to go. It’s amazing how I miss exercising when I’m unable to participate. Really hope this bug will pass quickly. Next Saturday is our 5k race at the Crammond Park Run. Want to be on good form to get a decent time after all the training we’ve done.

Hazel said worst case if we had to jog/walk it she’d do it with me. That’s a friend that is.

Cancelling my run with Rosie tomorrow. Fed up.

Fartleks 23/11/2016

Short session of fartleks. Ran alone as Hazel is poorly. Another freezing cold day, the air was still, the sun was shining and the pavements were icy. Chose a route along a cycle path between the hospital and football ground to do this speed training. It consisted of jogging/running/sprinting between lampposts. I slipped on the ice a few times.  The cold air irritated my lungs a bit and I struggled with pace, going too fast and having to go down to a walk now and then. Didn’t give it 100%, and though it was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the experience aesthetically, I missed Hazel’s chat and the motivation we give each other to keep going. There were a few dog walkers out, as well as random men hanging around and I did feel slightly wary from time to time, being on my own on a quiet cycle path, all be it in full daylight. Went round to Hazel’s later with Iris and told her about the session over a hot chocolate after school. Hazel is feeling frustrated as she hasn’t been able to get out for over a week now.

Was wondering how I could document the freezing conditions. Stills would give part of the picture, but not enough. Words convey a bit too.

A frosty morning run 21/11/2016

Met a friend, Rosie at school drop off to go for a running session today. It was -4c and the pavements were thick with frost and there was freezing fog. It was invigorating. I was wearing a thick fleece on top of my base layer, gloves and a headband to cover my ears that one of my friends from Jog Scotland had knitted for me with reflective thread. We set off along Woodmill Road, I had hoped to run at a steady pace for a minimum of 30mins. I was able to chat comfortably, and we weren’t very fast as we were concerned about slipping on the frost. About ten minutes into the run I began to feel a bit euphoric, got a runners high I guess.

Rosie took me on a new route along past a housing estate and onto a cycle path for half a mile then across Halbeath Road, past the hospital and along another cycle path for just over a mile. The air was damp, and our hair and faces began to glisten with tiny water droplets. Then the water froze, making our hair all frosted and by the time we finished we looked like we were on some kind of antarctic expedition. I kept noticing spiders webs that were heavy with frosty ice crystals. It was one of the coldest and freshest runs I have had. We stopped at 38 minutes, having covered roughly 5k and walked up the steep hill back home. Rosie lives on the next street along from me so she chummed me back. I had a hot bath with muscle soak and thawed out. A great way to start a Monday morning.

Social Running

I moved across the river to Fife last year with my husband and daughter. She was starting primary school. I had a bit of a break from the running over the school holidays, but joined a local high intensity interval training (HIIT) group run by a mum at the school my daughter started at, and picked up my fitness training again. It was good to meet local mums at this group, it helped me settle in and get to know folk, and the sessions were at the local park which was good as I enjoy exercising outdoors. I kept this group up through the autumn and winter. I also picked up the running again last autumn, and tried out local street routes, improving my fitness gradually.

Through the new friends I made at the HIIT class I was invited up to Townhill Loch for a run one morning after school drop off. I got a lift there (didn’t have a driving license at the time so relied on other folk) and a new friend of mine (Hazel) wanted to come and try to run for the first time. A circuit of the loch is about a mile, and we went twice round. Hazel was delighted. We chatted most of the way round, and then went to the cafe for a hot chocolate at the end. It was a very sociable experience. It wasn’t particularly mindful, but I enjoyed the social interaction. This is the way things have been over the last year in my running. Hazel and I run at a similar speed and enjoy passing the time of day on our regular runs. We motivate each other to keep it up and keep improving. It has become a very sociable activity for me now, as I run with Hazel two to three times per week, as well as taking part in Artlink group running sessions around various locations in Edinburgh.

I still use aspects of mindfulness during my runs, I especially notice things about the environment I’m running in, the change of seasons, and at a harder pace or on an incline I don’t talk but I do concentrate on my breathing and my footwork and arms. I don’t think mindful running is impossible to do when you’re with other people… you just have to adapt the practice to suit the situation.

My mental health has improved since moving to Fife, for many reasons, not least for the fact that I am running regularly and still going to the HIIT class each week. I have my driving licence back again for the first time since 2010. This has allowed me to try out all sorts of new running routes around Fife in woods, by lochs, in parks, etc. As well as meeting up at various venues in Edinburgh for Curious Routes.

I joined a beginners Jog Scotland group in Dunfermline three months ago, and have been taking part in group training sessions on a Sunday morning, with two training sessions mid week. We have been trying out a variety of training methods under the tuition of more experienced runners. I have been experimenting with distance and speed. The group will be graduating on 3rd December at a Parkrun in Edinburgh, and I plan to join the intermediate group following on from this. There is a group Facebook page we use for posting post-homework selfies each week, and people can discuss their progress or difficulties and the group usually respond in a positive way. It is something a bit different. I am enjoying it.

Mindful Running

I had a few local Edinburgh friends who were running and occasionally I would join one of them for a run. I was a bit self conscious as i’m quite slow – I am probably more of a jogger than a runner, and I don’t tend to run big distances. But at that stage I did mostly run on my own.

I did my first 10k in March 2012, a night race called The Mighty Deerstalker near Innerleithen. Then I did a winter 10k race that was twice round Arthurs Seat, eight months later that I completed in 1hr 7mins which I was pleased with. I don’t have a runners body, and I’ll never be a champ, but it doesn’t prevent me from taking part.

I found that running right through the year gives me a connection with the seasons and the changing weather conditions and makes me more aware of the environment. I go out in most weather conditions bar thick ice and heavy snow, and have managed to keep up the regular running on the whole, with a few blips along the way. There’s something about battling the weather conditions that makes me feel really alive.

One day about three years ago I was having a chat with a psychologist whom I’d been seeing for a while about managing various aspects of my illness, and we got talking about my running experiences and she asked if I could try running mindfully. We had been discussing mindfulness as a practice which can help manage anxiety, and anxiety had been causing me some difficulties. So I  had already begun experimenting with mindfulness techniques under her guidance, and having some benefits from trying it. Mindful running seemed like the next step. We just sort of invented it between us.

The way I think about mindful running is that it is like a version of mindfulness but outside and more physical than the usual practice. The first thing I do is just like the sedentary practice – I think about my breathing. Because I’m running or jogging my breathing should be regular if I’m on the flat but will increase if running on an incline. At any time should my attention wander I can bring it back to my breathing. Noticing my breathing is a really good way of grounding myself.

Once I’m into some sort of rhythm I make sure I’m in the moment, noticing how it feels to place each foot on the ground, noticing the rhythm of my breathing, my feet on the ground, my arms at my waist. I look around me and take in the view wherever I am. If I’m by the loch, or in the woods, or on the street I notice things about my surroundings. The way the sun filters through the leaves or the sound of my feet on the different surfaces. I am thinking about the air temperature, and whether it’s raining or windy or mild or frosty, and I notice the things all around me. Thoughts come and go, and I try to not judge the things that go through my head, but try to stay focussed on the activity and be present. If I need to I bring my attention back to my breathing.

Before I tried mindful running I was worried that I would end up focussing on the discomfort of the exercise, and that it would be too difficult to run like that, but it is not like that. I have never tried mindful running on a treadmill. I don’t think it would work for me. I hate running on a treadmill.