Week Eight: Graduation Day! We Are Runners!!

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How cute! We saw this heart shaped marking in the paving outside the front of Knole House on our last session together and I feel it captures the spirit of our lovely group as we shared time and laughter the last eight weeks, bonding as we supported and encouraged each other onward and upwards!

We have all made such progress- even me the slowest of the slow. It’s astonishing how far we have come from that first taster session in terms of fitness, speed, stamina and distance covered. Our coach has been a fount of wisdom, always there with encouragement and praise and has taken us on a journey from newbies to runners.

Memories have been made as we have run the paths around the park- Lynne’s Hugging Wall will always be special to each of us I think:wp-image-1509927443jpg.jpg

We have been so lucky as this last run together was our first real rainy run- we have had damp, cold, fog, frost, crisp sun and interestingly the weather has only ever added to our enjoyment and never taken from it. Running through the mud and rain was no less fun than on the beautiful sunny day…. I guess that means we really are runners now!

Plans for moving forward on this marvellous journey to fitness have been made and promises to continue the slj way by continuing to encourage and support each other as we go in slightly different directions. I still need to work on my stamina so shall not be joining the girls with the Gentle Joggers. I have decided that I shall focus on building fitness and stamina by joining the Power Walking group for the next few weeks and then once again sign up for Beginners with the goal of running 5k at the end of that course. The absolute flexibility to suit every individual is brilliant so we all have a clear vision of how and where we go now, having all successfully completed our eight week course

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For The Love of Cross Country By Stephanie D., Rutherford, NJ

Jog up to the cone
Take a step to the line
You’re not doing this alone
Shut up and don’t whine

Sprint down the hill
Stay with the pack
Oh how the sand is a thrill
THIS IS DEFINITELY NOT TRACK

Up the hill you must fight
Move your arms pick up your feet
You must use all your might
It’s Tenafly you must beat

Stay strong on the grass
Past the park to the street
Here they come move your ass
Let’s go! This is your meet

Run around the lake
C’mon you’re in first
1000 meters to take
I know, your dying of thirst

It’s a push to the end
A sprint to the line
Just around the last bend
Congratulations, you did just fine

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Week Six : Say Yes To The Scrunchie

Wow go us! We ran just that little bit further this week, 3.5 miles with more running, shorter intervals and less walking….yay us!! We even jogged a couple of inclines: woot woot!

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This fabulous photo is not mine sadly, it was on the Tonbridge Daily Facebook page*. It captures the stag so wonderfully and the deer are such an intrinsic part of the beauty of running in Knole Park that I hope the photographer Jo Roots will forgive my sharing it here.

Today was week six of the Beginners Joggers and our first rainy run, which given the time of year it seems to me that we have been very lucky so far! We have run in the mist and fog but not rain so I was curious to discover exactly why my son has always enjoyed running in the rain.

This is a single tree taking a slightly more horizontal approach to life before stretching its branches skywards, unfortunately these two photos fail to do its beauty justice though hopefully manage to show its intriguing shape.

The light drizzle didn’t dampen our spirits and the important business of catching up with each other’s half term news was soon underway. So….. the scrunchie! Our top joggers tip comes via one of the girls, who caused her hairdresser to have a mini meltdown!! It would appear that ponytails in hairbands whilst jogging cause too much damage to fine, colour treated hair resulting in a most unfortunate mullet effect! The solution (once the offending mullet had been bobbed) is to wear a scrunchie to hold back those precious locks in a ponytail. So now you know!!

These young deer are jus’ chillin’ in a what appears to be a youth club for young deer only as there were no older deer in sight. The sight of us trundling past at a sharp jog didn’t disturb them in the slightest.

I found running in light drizzle to be rather pleasant as it helped to keep my ready brek glow and sweaty betty face cool although glasses and rain are never a favourite combination. The wet weather eased off leaving us with just grey skies to run under and run we did! Even I managed to achieve this weeks target of eight minutes despite trailing well behind the girls. The progress we have all made in six short weeks is quite amazing really. Naturally despite being in my comfort zone at the back I was never left behind as that is simply not the SLJ way! Last is never least and extra loops allow the faster girls to stay challenged while little short legs me catches up: it’s win, win for everyone.

*The photo of the stag at the beginning of this post was taken by Jo Roots and featured on the Tonbridge Daily Facebook page. 

The Wrong Knickers! Also…What A Fantabulous Run!

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Another cold and misty day for week five of Beginners Joggers and the Park was as stunning as ever. Unfortunately I had left my phone at home so no photos from me today. I found the above photo on line. We set off on a slightly different route so that instead of entering Knole through the Hole In The Wall we climbed over the old steps further along the boundary wall. It is a fun and charming way to enter the Park. I do have a photo of my own (on the left below) from a walk with one of my daughters last Autumn and found another on line to better illustrate the steps.

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I was really anxious this week about keeping up with the girls,  as I had missed last week’s session due to family commitments and had limped out with a pulled muscle the week before. I have also had a really bad time with my IBS playing me up a lot over the last five days so that was another reason for anxiety to play havoc…which in turn makes  unfortunate episodes more likely. It’s a catch 22 situation! So I dosed myself up with Imodium to feel safe enough to not miss out on this weeks Joggers

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IBS had led to me being pretty much housebound for far longer than I care to think about before I embarked on the FODMAP diet, under supervision of a clinical dietitian. It’s a difficult diet to follow, but the benefits have proved to be life changing as without it this journey back to fitness would have been close to impossible. FODMAPs are a collection of short chain carbohydrates and sugar alcohols found in foods naturally or as food additives. FODMAPs include fructose (when in excess of glucose), fructans, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), lactose and polyols (eg. sorbitol and mannitol). This regime has seen my symptoms reduce by about 70%- as predicted by my lovely dietitian Emma and so now as long as anxiety can be kept at bay I am mostly good to tally forth from home with confidence.

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http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/research/divisions/dns/projects/fodmaps/faq.aspx has information from King’s College, London about the FODMAP diet.

I knew that the girls had achieved a couple of fabulous four minute runs the week before last whilst I was struggling with my pulled muscle and would surely have built on that in my absence last Wednesday. I was also very aware that, although I had managed to get out and about despite the ravages of flaring IBS, most of my outings over the last seven days were spent walking not jogging. I was worried my stamina had not improved sufficiently to allow me to keep up on my short legs with the lovely ladies!!

Well my stars and whiskers what a run! It was wonderful! Sure enough I did struggle somewhat and fell behind a couple of times, but not for long!  In fact the worst problem I had was not the running it was my knickers!!! Note to self: never wear the wrong knickers jogging! We spend much time discussing the right bra and indeed other bits of kit, but no time talking about knickers! Turns out this is an oversight: heed my advice now…. lacy french knickers are no good for jogging in! Constant wedgie!

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We ran 3.3 miles with intervals starting at four minutes- what progress we have made since starting out five weeks ago when we were running for thirty seconds intervals! We did do a couple of one minute intervals on the inclines but once we were thoroughly warmed up, had done our dynamic stretches we pushed the pace and time up to intervals of five, six and then….nine and then….ten minutes. Way to go girls! We shared a Hi Five moment as flushed with success and only slightly breathless we celebrated our achievement. As it turns out the target interval for this week was six minutes so we truly spanked that this week! Hehe! SLJ FTW!!

I Did, Done Strung My String

It was a cold and misty morning for week three of Beginner Joggers  but whilst the clouds were low our spirits were high as we headed off into the park. The group was a little changed up from the week before as we welcomed back one of our lovelies who was absent last Wednesday and a newcomer to the group who usually runs with the Saturday Beginners. This is part of the SLJ ethos that I really appreciate: warm, welcoming, friendly, supportive and flexible. It is always possible to swap out a session to another day of the week if necessary so life doesn’t get in the way of this journey towards fitness. Indeed I will have to change my Monday Fitball as I have to attend a meeting in Brighton.

We warmed up well as the park was chilly in the mist this morning as we strode out, catching up on each others’ week and getting to know our temporary member. It was so cold this week that even this menopausal sweaty betty didn’t take her jacket off- which is a first as I normally strip off on the first hill as my ‘ReadyBrek Glow’ takes over!

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The jogging started sooner than on the previous weeks and we were well into our stride by the time we reached Knole House so we trotted on around the corner of the garden wall where we paused for a short while to do our dynamic stretches. As usual the laughter and banter flowed as we squatted and lunged together. Just to mix things up a little we added in some press ups using the wall.

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I was struggling a little today with aching calves and talked with our lovely coach about this and realised that whilst the homework run is, of course, important for good progression and stamina building my extra Sunday run with my daughter with its additional squats, press-ups, jumps and lunges had not really given my muscles enough rest time. Lesson learnt: slow and steady wins the prize in my fitness journey and taking time to rest and repair muscles as they improve is as important as the exercise!!

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So… an explanation of the quirky title. I moved a little carelessly over some uneven ground as we were jogging slightly uphill and ouch! I felt a nasty twinge of pain at the back in my left thigh! I think it was a combination of having over done the training and being a little tired and clumsy, maybe the cold weather didn’t help, but whatever the reason the result was a pulled muscle- it felt like a piece of tight string strung down my thigh. My coach responded immediately with care and advice and my fellow beginners were very supportive. The photo below is not of my bottom sadly though it does illustrate exactly where it was hurting! Haha!

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Stretching it out did ease things a little but running really didn’t feel good so it was decided that I would walk back to base. The others continued with their run with me walking and true to SLJ ethos I was not left behind as, bless them, they ran ahead, then walked back to meet me. The banter continued amid their warm concern as they laughed and joked about improving their step count for the day! I used the slower pace to grab a couple of photos of the park in the mist.

We finished off as usual with stretches and I was given follow up advice for the next few days and as I am writing this some days after the event I can report that a couple of days resting saw me up and about as usual and looking forward to my homework run…yay!