Getting a balance

Do you run every day? It’s a question I get asked a lot and the answer is – no.

I know that in order for me to be healthy, I need to factor in rest and recovery days, and I like to mix my training up with strength sessions.

I know some people who do… streaking as it is called… and if it works for them, then great. But me, I tend to run every other day… and I tend to take time out every now and again to recover from running and training.

It all started way back over 10 years ago when I started learning about training, and training for a triathlon specifically. I bought Joe Friel’s The Triathlete’s Training BIble and I learned a lot from it.

Splitting up your training between the three disciplines, plus a bit of strength work… and using periodisation to split your annual training into blocks of transition, base, build, peak, taper, race and recovery. I still think that way to this day.

In his book he talks about micro cycles and macro cycles. The overall training plan is the training that will build you up from nothing to whatever you’re aiming for, over a period of 3-6 months… your overall goal. 6 months can include those blocks above, from transition, base and build, to peak, taper, race and recovery.

Then we can break it down into week by week sessions. What will you do when this week? What will your training look like? What exercise and what session will l you do? What recovery will you get?

And all of this is all very well if you’re a full time athlete… but usually we have to balance our training with the other parts of our lives. And this question comes into play – What other things do you have to do? Work, family, socialising / play…. you name it. I know sometimes for me… work just simply takes over… before I know it I’m doing a 45-50 hour week at work, and my focus is quite rightly on that.

Long busy days using my brain and running around making things happen. And it’s on those weeks, just like last week… that I listen to what’s happening and I sometimes pull back.

Last week, after a week of 3 runs and 3 strength sessions, I was tired and my legs were sore. I took Monday as a good rest day. I ran 5 easy k on Tuesday… then the rest of the week I didn’t run or go into the gym.

I listened to my body and I decided this would be a good time to take a rest and recovery week. I could have forced myself out the door to run, or into the gym (I actually did get up and into it on Wednesday morning, but my heart wasn’t in it so I went back to bed!).

Still keeping my eye on the training plan for the Scottish Half Marathon at the end of September, I’ll hopefully run long on Sunday (in the pouring rain)…and hopefully the 4+ days rest I’ve had will do me good.

So yes, it’s good to be active, and do something every day, but it’s also good to learn what works in terms of recovery and rest days (1-3 a week). And if sometimes life gets in the way, or you listen to your body and you find you need a break from training, it’s good to take that break, not feel guilty and know that it’s doing you good.

Getting a balance is important, and it’s why I make and effort to take time out and spend time with people – travelling to visit friends and family, taking my 86 year old neighbour out for lunch… 5 hours out of my weekend, but it made her weekend and it certainly was nice for us too. Flying my kite, going out for breakfasts and coffees, going a nice walk in a park.

Life is too short to be grinding yourself to the bone, when it’s better to get a balance between it all, and not burn out or break.

That said, it is now 6 weeks until the half marathon, so I’m about half way through my training cycle. Taking a week off last week was just right, and now I’ll get back into it.

Wc6 Aug.- Recovery week – 11-13M long
Wc13 Aug – 5, 6 Tempo, 13-15M
Wc20 Aug – 5, 10k time trial, 8M
Wc27 Aug – 5, 45 min speedwork, 10M
Wc3 Sep – off / 4 & 6 ?
Wc10 Sep – off / 9 on Sun 16th
Wc17 Sep – 5,4, Scottish Run Half Marathon
Wc23 Sep – Recovery week

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It’s ok not to be ok

This time last year I was in a bad place, a really bad place. I didn’t really realise it then, but looking back, it was. I went to spend the weekend at a very good friends for a birthday celebration.

For what was supposed to be a big social event with their friends and family there, I ended up unable to cope with it and found myself having to shut myself away into a room full of well behaved kids to compartmentalise how I was feeling. It really wasn’t like me, but I felt I had to shut myself away to deal with how I was feeling.

I had the seemingly never ending situation of my mother’s estate rumbling on, but I was also in limbo at work. A role that I once loved had changed slowly over the last two years and my career seemed to be tumbling away from me. It seemed like I wasn’t in control of it anymore, and I was finding it hard to see a way out.

I had some other issues at work going on, that had lasted about a year and I was trying my best to get a positive outcome of it. It was also a couple of weeks after we so unfairly had our neighbourhood cat Henry taken from us when he got run over at the end of July. That probably affected me more than I realised.

I was lost in so many areas, and felt like I had no control over the direction I and my life was headed in. I’d sought counselling and I was working my way through how to deal with it all, but that weekend, I hit a big low.

That evening started off well. I was able to socialise, with a couple of good friends, and with their friends and family. Their family, from my childhood, I caught up with them and slipped back into the way it used to be twenty years ago. Settling into comfortable surroundings with nice people who cared about me.

But into the night, I found it increasingly hard to interact and found myself have to remove myself away from the party, into the quiet. I took myself away from the party in the garden, and sat in the quiet livingroom. A dvd was on to entertain the kids, it was a nice and quiet and relaxed environment.

I tried to distract myself and my thoughts by playing with one of the over energetic 5 year old boys. And we had fun for a bit, but I couldn’t keep it up. It was really strange as I’d usually been able to be social and enjoy myself, but I was struggling so much then. I was in bits.

Perhaps if I still drank alcohol I’d have been more relaxed, but then I could see instead if I drank, then I’d have not have been able to keep my emotions in check. And I’d have ended up crying all over the pace and ruining the night, or making it about me, when it should have been a good birthday celebration.

After a couple of hours of trying to calm down and relax, I ended up getting upset and retreating to the bedroom I was staying in. Conscious that I didn’t want to ruin the night, I went upstairs and away from it all.

I can’t even remember exactly what I was upset about now – it would have been a mixture of my issues in work and the seemingly never ending estate that had rumbled on for nearly two years.

Each time I had to deal with it, it was like ripping a plaster off … and I had no idea when this torture would end. It was totally out of my control, just like my job at work that had changed beyond recognition and there seemed to be no way out.

I remember being up in the bedroom feeling so lost, and crying.. wailing out loud in fact. Even with my best friend ever close, downstairs – I didn’t want to be a drama and mess up the party. I tried to call a friend who lived nearby to see if I could chat or visit her, but she was out for the night.

Eventually at just before midnight, my best friend came to find me, and I cried to her. I didn’t ruin the night, and as usual, all calm and lovely, she helped me to feel better. Looking back on it we both realised that I was in a really bad place and needed to do something about it.

This time last year, on a scale of 1-10 where 1 is low, I was most definitely a 1… now I’m easily an 8 or 9. What a difference a year makes.

One year on, and steadily over the last year things have come back up to be much better and back to normal. The estate wrapped up, all finished and went away and I stepped up and got a new job and a new focus at work. And I got another issue in work sorted after about a year and a half of trying.

Then the other day I had a couple of things that were out of my control… and I noticed myself go into a really angry and bad mood. All day. I was a nightmare. I saw what was happening, but still, I was finding the lack of control hard to deal with.

I wrote down my thoughts to try and deal with it, and I spoke with friends about how I was feeling. The next day I felt better, but I really noticed how when something is way out of my control, I don’t like it.

I used to be able to push these things aside, but now it feels like I’m being pulled back into the time of not having any influence over the outcome. I like to get things done, get on with it and make things happen. But when I can’t influence the outcome, I don’t like it.

Take someone I really care about – and seeing their health deteriorating. And there’s nothing I can do about it. What I do is I learn about what it is they’re going through, speak to experts or those who have gone through similar. I do what I can to help, and I accept that that’s about as much as I can do. It’s heart breaking to see, but I can be there for them and that’s important to me.

You can’t control everything, but you can control how you react to it and deal with it.

I feel like a year on, things have progressed so much since that day I was so down and in a bad place. I’ve taken steps to deal with how I was and now gratefully I’m back to being in a very good place, with good things going on.

I knew I was strong before, having gone through a few challenges, but the last two to three years has shown me that I can face and deal with anything life throws at me. And I can bounce back from it. Life is too short to be angry and upset. And if things are out of my control, then let them be.

So much has happened in the last year, and so much has changed. I’m looking forward to more of a settled time coming up now. And if shit happens, I’ll recognise it, reach out and lean on others – deal with it and I’ll be ok.

It’s ok not to be ok.

If you’re down or lost, speak to someone. Friends, family, your GP, a counsellor, the Samaritans on 116123 or Mind.

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Wk31 into Wk32

Here’s what I did last week… 3 runs (21 miles) and 3 strength sessions, 2 rest days.

Mon: Super Deadlift Strength B
Tue: 6.4M run
Wed: Rest
Thu: AM KB 80/20 + finisher / PM 4.3M run
Fri: Rest
Sat: Super Squat Strength A
Sun: 10M long run

After all of that I took a good rest day today, ahead of running on Tuesday morning and the following for next week:

Mon: Rest
Tue: 5M run
Wed: Super Deadlift Strength B
Thu: 6M incl hills
Fri: Super Squat Strength A
Sat: 11-13M
Sun: Super 5s Strength

My legs are a little tender from the strength training / squats on Saturday, but that should improve from tomorrow onwards.

Let’s see how my training goes next week – the plan should help

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10 miles hard vs 10 miles easy

Two weeks ago I ran a hard 10 mile session … I felt strong throughout it… having been well rested before it, with good music on, a couple of caffeine gels and some nice new trainers… I flew around the 10 miles which comprised of 5k hard, then nearly 2 miles recovery, then another 5k hard, before 2 miles recovery again.

I worked hard, with an average heart rate of 156 and max 181. My average pace was 8:23 minute miles, and I finished the 10 miles with a glow in 1:23:54.

Here’s some of my splits and heart rate for the run. On the effort parts my heart rate was away up between 160-180 and on the recoveries it was down to about 150. I felt good and strong on the run but knew I needed rest after it, so took a day of rest and made sure I got plenty sleep.

Fast forward to this Sunday, two weeks on and I decided I’d run easy. Aiming to keep my heart rate at between 130-150 if I could. Through Maxwell park then 6 miles in Pollok Park before running 2 miles home.

I split the run into chunks, or chunked it up… 5 x 2 miles… it’s a good way to make long runs seem like less of such a mountainous challenge. I didn’t have a route as such, I’d just spend my time between a couple of parks then run home.

My legs were a little tender with DOMS in my quads and glutes, so the downhills I usually enjoyed, I tried to avoid. Instead I ran steadily and comfortably up quite a few hills, still keeping it easy and keeping my heart rate as low as possible. I felt great.

I was able to see more, hear more and take more in. And it’s no wonder, as my average heart rate was 141, my average pace 9:41, over a minute a mile slower… or easier than the other week. I finished in 1:37, but hadn’t had any focus on the time or my splits, I was just aiming to take it easy and enjoyable.

Last week I met Liz and Donna who are about 6 months into running and I was telling them about easy running and hard running, versus slow and fast running.

When runners are beginners, or when they start getting fitter and faster, it can become a good goal for them to aim to get faster… and all of a sudden speed and pace can become a priority. Or even experienced runners, who are perhaps racing, time and pace can become a priority.

I do like running ‘fast’ sometimes, but I tend to do most of my running at ‘slow’ paces, or slower than fast… if that makes sense.

I don’t tend to see it as ‘slow’ and ‘fast’, I tend to see it as ‘easy’ and ‘hard’.

So if we take the words slow and fast:

It would be nice to be able to run faster. It becomes the positive… beating pbs, improving your times, getting fitter and faster.

Running slowly becomes a negative. Slower than you were before, slower than others (sometimes this doesn’t matter as much to some people).

Faster is usually deemed as better than slower.

But I see runs as either easy or hard… not slow or fast…

I’ve written about this and compared easy or hard runs before here:

So two weeks ago, my run was hard (and fast)… I still enjoyed it as it was a challenging run for me. After it I was tired and need a lot of Recovery – running with your heart rate at between 88-99% of your max for nearly an hour and a half will take it out of you.

Anaerobic hard running for quite a long time (without oxygen). Gubbed and in need of recovery. I probably missed quite a lot on the run, my senses compromised by my body working so hard.

… if you’re not enjoying running or if you’re finding it hard to be motivated to run… maybe it’s because it’s hard? Maybe you’re running fast … maybe you’re working hard and maybe you’re feeling bad because of it…

Running fast can be great, but it’s hard, and who wants life to be hard?

On the other hand, today’s long run was easy (and slow). No pressure, no looking at the clock or pace… just run and tick along comfortably. Heart rate between 70-80%.

Aerobic running, and I even stopped at mile 9 to help give directions to some women who were looking at a map. (There’s no way I would have done that two weeks ago when my focus was on running fast).

Running up hills I was careful to not work to hard, slow or down and not push it. After running I felt fine, refreshed and alert. I had a shower after and felt fine all day.

Easy running or slow running can be great too. But as I mentioned below ‘slow’ isn’t usually seen as a good thing…. I think it is a good thing.

Easy or hard, slow or fast… most people want to run fast, but who wants their life to be hard? I know I don’t. I want life to be easy… and enjoyable… and that applies to my running too (most of the time).

So next time you go for a run, why don’t you try and take it easy? Slow it down, and have a think about enjoying it, instead of pushing yourself to run fast and make it hard.

It’s good to test yourself every now and again, but keep it easy on 80% of your runs and if you want to push it, do a short time trial, speed session, hill session or race to challenge you and keep running interesting.

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Good stuff – naw, magic stuff

I’ve been in my new role at work for just over 6 months, and each day I’m getting so much positivity and reward from it. Feeling full of purpose at work is helping me to feel good in all other aspects of my life – and it feels great.

Each day I’m getting the chance to use my knowledge, skills and experience to deliver for many people, and I get to work with and support and help many people too. It’s great.

Today alone:
– I fixed some things, and liaised with / helped a few people.
– I helped someone reformat their CV so that it looked ‘100 times better’ so she can use it in applying for a job (and it didn’t take me long). – I did some good prep for a busy week next week.
– Helped someone prep for an interview.
– Used my creativity and excel skills to make a really important document, for some quite important people. (And I pitched the document to the person who asked me to do it – the pitch went well).
– Used my creativity and PowerPoint skills to get a presentation together (still not finished).
– Delivered a report very quickly and just what the person had been looking for.
– Got a couple of emails back from my two new run coaching clients, where they said I really resonated with them and they got a lot from our first session the previous night.

All that in just one day. It’s magic, and the magic seems to be spreading into the rest of my life.

It’s cool how one simple change into a role that gives you a purpose and reward, can improve everything so much. My BBC family is pretty big after all those years of me being there. 🙂

Finally, I wanted to find a nice image and found this one: 🙂

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There’s only one Lorn?

Today I saw that there’s an online tool which has recently been set up which holds all of the first names registered in Scotland since 1974.

I put my name in and selected female, and it turns out I was the first baby girl to be registered with my name in 1980.

Then after me, there have been 10 other female Lorn’s registered, all from about 1990 (and bone registered in about the last 10 or 11 years).

I think my mum had been concerned to make a girl Lorn without an e (as it was a boys name?), but perhaps I set a (slow burning) trend for another 10 to be named as ‘Lorn’?

In comparison, there are 28 boys who were registered with my name in Scotland since 1974.

I thought there was only 1 Lorn, but it seems there might be up to 39 out there!


Try the tool for yourself or your kids, the link is above. 🙂

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Strength Progress in July

Since about the second week in July (from the 6th July)… I’ve been doing around 2-3 strength workouts a week.

I started off with a Kettlebell workout (outside) on the 6th July, then went into doing a Squat based workout one day in the week and a Deadlift based workout on another day in the week. All in Foxy’s Garagym, usually first thing in the morning.

I also did a Super 5s workout on the 18 July as a spare workout. And I’ve been running 3-4 times a week too, averaging about 20 miles a week / around 90,000 steps a week.

When I’ve been doing my main workouts, I’ve aimed to either increase the weight I’m lifting, or increase the reps. Now that I’ve been doing the main workouts for 3 weeks, I’m looking to see what my progress has been, and aim to plan out what my next lifts should be like in terms of weight / reps. The finishers should also come down in time hopefully.

I’ve been conscious about what I’ve been eating / consuming, but not too much, and I haven’t been too restrictive. Mainly just reminding myself to eat well, not be greedy and try not to have too many treats. 🙂

At the moment I’m deadlifting 80% of my bodyweight and squatting 66% of my bodyweight…I’ll see if I can increase those percentages to 105% deadlift and 85% squat in the next 4 weeks. I’ll also keep up my running, around 3 or 4 times a week.

I was away a couple of weekends in July which maybe prevented me from fitting 3 strength sessions in each week, but I’ll aim to do that in August for the most part.

I’m feeling nice and strong after building for 3 weeks, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can progress to in the next 4 weeks.

Here’s my workouts / progress and plans:

Squat Strength Workout
– Squat 35-42kg 3×6,
– Squat 1xAMRAP 35-42kg – x14-20 reps
– Romanian Deadlift 36-51kg 3×10
– KB Swing 16kg 3×12
– Squat to Press 2x8kg 3×10
– Reverse Lunge 2x8kg 3×10
– TRX Atomic Press Up 3×10
– Sledgehammer 15kg 3×10
– Finisher:
3×6 Clean n Press 21kg / 3×10 Press Ups
5×10 KB Swings 16kg in between

10 July 35kg/36kg/8kg/12kg/3:50 x20
20 July 37kg/ 41kg/8kg/15kg/6:30 x20
25 July 42kg/51kg/8kg/15kg/5:55 x14
Next 45kg/56kg/12.5kg/15kg
Next 47kg/56kg/12.5kg/15kg
Next 52kg/61kg/12.5kg/20kg
Next 55kg/61kg/12.5kg/20kg

Deadlift Strength Workout
– Deadlift 51kg 3×6,
– Deadlift 1xAMRAP 46-51kg – x12-14 reps
– Press Ups 3×15
– Bent Over Row 2×12.5kg 3×10
– Clean n Press 21-24kg 3×8
– Single Leg Deadlift 12.5kg 3×10
– TRX Squat to Row 3×10
– Press Up Holds 3×8-10
Finisher: 21,15,9
KB Swing 16kg / Sledgehammer 15kg plate

16 July 46kg/2×12.5kg/21kg/12.5kg/10/8 x12,x9
23 July 51kg/2×12.5kg/21kg/12.5kg/10/10 x12
31 July 51kg/2×12.5kg/24kg/12.5kg/15/8 x14
Next 56kg/32kg/24kg/12.5kg/18/10
Next 56kg/32kg/26kg/25kg/20/12
Next 61kg/36kg/26kg/25kg/22/14
Next 66kg/36kg/26kg/25kg/24/16

KB Workout 80/20
– KB Swings 16kg x80
– Clean n press 12kg x20 (10es)
– KB Goblet Squats 12kg x80
– Press Ups x20
– KB High Pulls 12kg x80
– Clean n press 12kg x20 (10es)
– KB Romanian Deadlift 16kg 80 secs
– Burpees x20

6 July

Super5s Workout

Warm up then 4 rounds of 30:10:

– Squats / Clean n Press left

– Clean n Press right / Jumping Jacks

– Press Ups / Bent Over Row 2×12.5kg

– Single leg deadlifts / KB Swings

– Lunges / Burpees

Finisher: 3×50 secs Farmers Walk 12kg

18 July

Now perhaps the results I was looking for:

Weight & Body Composition Progress
25 June 139.2lbs / 16.8% bf / 79.7% lbm
23.4lbs bf / 115.8lbs lbm/other
76cm waist = 45% waist to height ratio

30 July 137.4lbs / 15.0% bf / 81.3% lbm
20.6lbs lbm / 116.8lbs lbm/other
72cm waist = 43% waist to height ratio

That’s a reduction of almost 2lbs in weight, but a reduction in body fat of nearly 3lbs and an increase in lean body mass / other weight of 1lb. Down 4cm around my waist – that’ll do nicely. :-).

One month’s progress – and I’m happy with that. I must keep the momentum going with it and see how I get on. (And remember to prep my food where possible / eat well, and maybe not eat everything in sight too – it’s all about balance!)

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