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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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!!

Week Two…. Progress Is Made!

Yes, Yes, Yes! It’s true! We have all made progress and it’s awesome! Believe me I do not use that word lightly as despite teenspeak influence upon my vocabulary I still reserve the word ‘awesome’ for those occasions that truly warrant it.

The park was beautiful in the early morning sun, here and there little bits of leftover snow lingered but mostly it was just crisp frost decorating the grounds.

It was lovely to see the girls again and we stepped out lightheartedly catching up on each others snow news etc. Our coach talked to us about gait this week – like all the SLJ coaches she is inspiring, encouraging, supportive and knowledgeable and is keen to get us into good habits right from the start. Good gait can make all the difference in improving the run whilst caring for hips and knees, which is very relevant to an old crock like me who is starting to discover aches and pains in a previously fairly well behaved body! We were given a little aide-memoire to help remind us of the key points: Talking M-P-H!

Talking: this refers to the correct relaxed running pace that allows enough breath spare to talk, and therefore one that is sustainable and thus building stamina. Too fast a pace is simply unsustainable and ends in uncomfortable puffing (or in my case panting collapse hehe!) A relaxed pace is not only physically manageable, but also encouraging mentally as it makes everything achievable- which is a tremendous boost to this beginner!

M: is for mid-foot strike as opposed to landing on either toes or heels with each step and thus avoiding damaging jarring to hip and knee joints. It also seemed to help speed and smoothness of running as we then pushed off from our hind foot more efficiently.

P: is for parallel feet running along parallel lines as if on railway tracks, without allowing knees to knock in, or ankles to kick out.

H: is for using our arms to help move us forward by drive the elbow back at ninety degrees and then swinging forward as if hammering a nail into an imaginary wall. We keep our arms along the same parallel as our feet, as allowing them to swing in front of us reduces pace and arms are surprisingly helpful in aiding forward momentum.

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A tip shared by my coach on the previous course I started but was unable to complete was to keep the hands relaxed by imagining holding an egg as this means tension doesn’t build up in the shoulders whilst running.

Our pace was definitely relaxed as we talked away the miles, comparing notes on many and varied subjects including the remarkable uses for toothpaste! I guess you had to be there as it sounds a little odd now but rest assured we had a splendid time and the miles just flew by.

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After our cooldown walk we were excited to be informed that we had chalked up another three miles AND doubled our shortest running intervals from thirty to sixty seconds, with mostly intervals of one and half minutes mixed with two minute ones…. our longest was two and half minutes so it was high fives all round!!

Can’t wait for next week!

FABBALLous Fitball!

Heavens to Betsy! Sam delivered a great workout today! A hi-met fitball session…what fun! I just love how every week this class is so different from the previous one. We started with a circuit to warm up, which was quite a laugh- particularly the one that involved a resistance band just under our knees…as Sam humourously pointed out it was rather like having your knickers round your knees! Hehe!

It also included using wobble boards as stepping stones so I was pleased I have been putting my one at home to good use instead of leaving it in the box.Image result for wobble board

Weights, balls, bands, wobble boards and cushions… All the toys were out and it was a great start to the class. Everyone was happy, warm and gently glowing!

The main body of the workout was challenging- I worked up such a ‘glow’ I steamed my glasses up!!!! It’s refreshing to have a sweat on due entirely to exercise rather than menopausal hormones and I was thrilled when Sam came over to compliment the progress I have made since starting last September- yay me! This back to fit journey is really starting to show results which is simply fabballous!

So it was a very happy bunny who went off home to shower and continue practising the wobble board… in fact before you know it I will be doing this every day:-

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Today I Went Jogging; NB: I Am Not A Runner….Or Am I?

Today was the first session for my second attempt at the SLJ Beginners Course. I was unable to complete the course last September as I had to step out due to demands on my time from family and some personal health issues- now resolved thank goodness. For some reason I had worked myself into a fine old tizzy and was more anxious second time around than I was last year. Seriously….why was I so worried? The welcome was as warm and open as ever it was last September and naturally I was not alone in my anxious state… my fellow beginners were equally dubious about what that they had signed up for.

Our coach Hazel was immediately reassuring and swiftly gained our confidence as she led us off to the ‘Hole In The Wall’ entrance to Knole Park

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The warm up walk was reassuringly easy and a great ‘nerve settler’ and there was just enough breath to spare as we introduced ourselves and generally jelled as a group, a few knee high steps raised body temperature sufficiently for this menopausal member to strip off a layer before we even reached the first hill! The advice to dress for the second mile of your run is sooooo spot on!!

Our walk up the hill was made more interesting with just the right amount of challenge as we formed a single line, with the person at the back striding forward to overtake fellow groupies to take the front spot, this process was repeated in turn until the crest of the hill was achieved and we all had a lovely, healthy glow! A few moving stretches and then we were ready to start the business of the day: jogging!!

 

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The deer don’t take any notice as we start our first little 30 second jog, alternating with walking so that an impressive amount of ground is covered almost without us noticing. The park is stunning, the sun is shining, the temperature crisp and exhilarating, the company is great and the experience is quite simply wonderful! We trot up and down dale, around the boundaries of the majestic house and its inner grounds, through woodland and open spaces: it is all beautiful and feeds the soul.

 

Now that we are on the home stretch and nicely warmed up we run for two minutes straight and remarkably no one is collapsing and we all share a high five moment as we celebrate our achievement! We return to Hollybush thrilled with the information we have just run and walked three miles…. yay for us!

On a personal note I have managed to exceed my daily fitbit targets with over 10,000 steps and 76 active minutes before its even lunchtime! Now that, my dears, is a result!!

First Fitball Class Of 2017- Shout Out For SLJ!

Fabulous! What an absolute delight to see friends from last term and welcome a new face to the group! The class itself was- as ever- fun, fun, fun and the routine, for all that it was ‘old skool fitball’ was fresh and enjoyable, with just enough challenge to ensure a sense of achievement was felt by all (judging by the smiles and flushed, happy faces!) It still amazes me that such simple exercises, with often such small movements, can raise heartbeat, body temperature and be seriously effective, whilst always allowing flexibility to address individual needs such as back or shoulder pain, a sprained ankle, recent childbirth….!

Full disclosure here: one of the reasons I walked away on air was not just because the class was awesome! I was floating on endorphin’s AND an absolute boost to my confidence and determination to stay on this #backtofit journey due to observations from our lovely leader Sam and one of my new found chums at Fitball!!! They both affirmed my weight loss is noticeable and I can’t express fully how THRILLED I was and how unashamedly I asked them to repeat this fantasitcal and encouraging news! It is one thing to feel that you are changing shape and losing weight but nothing replaces compliments from others!

 

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