Mantra


I started this week with my longest run to date – seven whole kilometres! It was one of those runs where everything felt just right. I set off at a slow and steady pace and kept it up. The weather was chilly, windy and mizzly but I jogged along with a big grin on my face, doing thumbs-up and smiles at everyone I passed, even at a black labrador at one point. I could have gone on for a tiny bit longer but I didn't want to overdo it.

I'm gradually working my way up to running 10km so on Tuesday I hopped on my bike and rode the route that I intend to do that on. Ten kilometres (6.2 miles) is a long way. I know it's not a long way to experienced runners but right now it seems soooo long-a-long to me.


Cambridge must be naff for hill runners

The route is pretty, though. Again, it's along the busway, so its flat and straight with only two roads to cross (twice, so four in total) and once you get halfway the view is all fields and sky and there are even some sheep to run past.

On Wednesday I did a 5km run and the last kilometre was a bit of a struggle; the last few hundred metres seemed to go on forever.



I came home and refuelled with a bowl of summer berry overnight oats – cold and lovely purplepinkness. The 'recipe' is at the end of this post if you fancy trying it.



I did some Pilates and some strength exercises on Thursday, and on Friday I went for another 5km run, and again, I struggled with the final part of it. In fact, I found myself plodding along for the last 500 metres huffing the words "Mind over matter. There's no such word as can't." Those are two phrases that my late grandfather, whom we all called 'Herbie', used to say to us. I've heard of runners reciting mantras to spur themselves on but I've always thought of mantras as being a bit wanky. Mind you, I used to think that running was a bit wanky and now look at me – reciting a mantra as I run.


Me and my increasingly-oldening face

I marshalled at Cambridge parkrun yesterday. It was cold and spitting with rain and I was positioned at 'Muddy Corner' which is not just a clever name. It's a bit of a tight bend which is home to a particularly swampy patch of mud and a gimassive puddle.



'Muddy Corner' at Cambridge parkrun

There was a lot of slipping and sliding but all 472 of the runners did a great job of negotiating that very tricky bit of the course. I was absolutely frozen by the end of the run. I couldn't feel my hands or my face, and my phone had switched itself off in protest. iPhones are such fussy buggers. As soon as I got home I ordered a hand-warmer to keep my fingers and phone cosy next Saturday.

I've been trying to figure out why my last two 5km runs were a bit of a task and I think it's because I didn't let my body recover enough after the 7km run. Like I say, I know a 7km run and a 10km bike ride don't sound like much to a lot of people, but I only completed C25K in November. I was running about three times a week for seven weeks and then I had three weeks off due to injury. I've only been back at it for about a fortnight, so that's only nine weeks of running since learning how to run. I think my body is still adjusting to what I'm asking of it after so many years of just walking as exercise. My plans for next week are to attempt a 7.5 or an 8km run and then take two full rest days – no cycling – and then maybe a short 2.5km interval run, a rest day or two and then a 5km run. If that goes better I shall cycle to and from parkrun (just over 6km in total) on Saturdays and that can be my biking for the week.

There's a huge amount to learn with this running lark: anatomy, biology, science, maths, physics, nutrition and self discipline. And everybody is different so what works for one person might not necessarily work for another. I just need to figure out what works best for me.

Running Tune of the Week 
Red Light Spells Danger by Billy Ocean



Summer Berry Overnight Oats (serves 1)

65g fat free Greek yoghurt
65ml milk of your choice
½ tablespoon of honey (or maple syrup)

40g rolled porridge oats
Handful of summer berries (I defrost what I need from a bag of frozen berries)

In a bowl, mix together the yoghurt, milk and honey, and then stir in the oats and the fruit. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Give it a good stir before you eat it, and marvel at its pretty colour.

Some people make their overnight oats in Mason jars but that's all just a tad too hipster for my liking. You can also add half a tablespoon of chia seeds to your oats, and there are umpteen flavour ideas out there besides berry. This link has a whole host of overnight oats jazzuppery for you.


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