Moving onto another site

After much thought and consideration I have decided to merge this blog into my professional one at www.jenfarrant.com

There are several reasons for this – one is that it is hard to maintain as many blogs as I do, but the main one is I am proud of the stuff I write here and I want to share it under my professional site.  I would love to get to the point where I am asked to guest post on fitness and it makes sense to do this from Jen Farrant, where I promote myself as a writer and researcher.

When I comment on other people’s blogs I would like to drive traffic to my professional site and get my name known more.

I will continue to blog about fitness  – and I have transferred quite a few of the posts I am most proud of over to my other site and they can be found under the fitness catagory. http://www.jenfarrant.com/category/fitness/

I hope you will continue to follow me over there – you will also hear about arts and business, rather than pure fitness, but I like to think that they all blend together!

Great London Swim

this weekend was the great London Swim, and I highly enjoyed it, I think the organisation was fantastic and I couldn’t fault it at all!

I was really nervous, I haven’t raced much this year due to illness and other things and my husband couldn’t be with me, as he was poorly (although he did make the trip into East London to pick me up as he was worried about me being too exhausted to get home!). So I didn’t have anyone to talk to to dissipate my nerves, although I did ask a random lady to zip up my wet suit and ended up chatting to her and her husband for a while.

Everyone was really friendly and I was impressed at the way they held us back getting into the water, so there wasn’t a scrum – a really nice touch, especially as this was billed as an event suitable for all.

I was so proud of my time – I had told Gavin I was expecting to do it in an hour and I ended up doing it in 39 min and 38 seconds, not bad for a mile! That is quicker than I can do it in the pool, so I was very happy. It helped that it was so warm in the water, it was a really pleasant temperature. It is also in the third quater of results – so much better than my running results, when I am at the back of the pack!

I came home, tired and happy, especially with the goody bag, which was full of useful things, not just crap. I even got a medal, which always makes me happy

great london swim

 

and a tshirt too – excellent!

I was rather disappointed that we are at the end of the season and I couldn’t do another one, but in the back of the free H20pen magazine there were a few listings, including one next Saturday just up the road from my mum. So I have signed up and I am going to stay over night with her and then go for a swim.

Looking forward to it – Xterra in Cranleigh…

Catching up

Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it.

Mostly I have been coming to terms with no running, and I have to say I have put on quite a lot of weight. I guess going from training for a marathon to doing no running, plus a lot of comfort eating isn’t the best idea. I have also had quite a bad time for illness, I picked up a lurgy of some description which really did stop me from doing anything for quite a while, taking the dog out for a walk was exhausting, let alone training.

On the positive side I am back swimming again and I really am enjoying that. I was supposed to be doing the Great East Swim this weekend in Ipswich, 2 miles, but it was cancelled. I have to say I am not that surprised, it was very windy here and having spent a week camping in Suffolk two weeks ago it was extremely windy then. It is billed as a beginners’ event and it is important that they make the decision about safety. I saw a very negative post from someone saying they should have let those who wanted to do it to get on with it, but I think that is very selfish and I back the GES in their decision, as disappointed as I am.

I did do the Swimathon in my local pool  in April and actually I enjoyed that, I wish there was more pool based long distance things. I’m not quite sure why I didn’t post about it.  I was quite proud of my time, it was just over an hour 1hr 1 min and 36 seconds. If I hadn’t have got cramp I would have been under an hour.

Looking at my wider results I was extremely pleased – I did the 2.5K distance and across the country I was 1062/3144 overall,  for age I was 102/322 and for gender 579/2042. Compared to how I stack up on the running front this is excellent! So I am a much better swimmer than runner.

Running has always been a horrible effort for me, transitioning to bare foot has definatley helped, but it has never been easy. But I really do like swimming a great deal.

I have two more swimming races this season, and I am assuming that Great East Swim will reschedule too. One is swim around the pier in Brighton and one in swimming around the pier in Southend. I might also do a couple at the lake at Lakeside (the shopping centre).

I will also go down to the Southend End on Sea Open Water Swimming group at some point to join in with them. They have a night swim tonight, but that is a bit brave for me at the moment, I might go down a couple of times in the daylight before I join them in the evening!

I am also going to do something about my weight, I am a stone and a half over what I like to be. It isn’t too bad as I am quite tall 5’9”, but none the less I have had to buy a new swimming costume as my usual ones are too tight and that as put me off of going swimming. I am not joining weight watchers or anything as that sends me a bit obsessive, but primarily focusing on not comfort eating because I can’t train. Let’s face it that is not the best combination in the world for staying at the same weight.

The biggest problem is I feel really self conscious when I am training. Still, I just have to put up with that for the time being and get on with it!

New bike…in September last year!

Up until last September I had a very heavy, clunky hybrid, which was not very sophisticated and my cycling recently had been limited to going to the shops and back. But September? I have had a new bike since September and not written about it? Bear with me….
When I entered the Women’s Tri last year I did really well on the swim (top third and I started at the back as it was my first open water swim and I was nervous), and all right on the running, but I practically came last in the cycling and it dramatically affected my result.

So, I literally raided my piggy bank – I smashed it and counted out all of the coins and realised that I could just about afford the B’twin Triban 3, which had really, really good ratings in all of the bike magazines. So I bought it in great excitement and went out on it. First of all it scared me, it was so flighty compared by my solid hybrid and I was honestly a bit worried by it. It is worth saying that I used to commute across London on my bike, which is not for the faint-hearted that’s for sure, so I am not unused to cycling.

But I kept on going out for a few rides, but it never just clicked. Every time after about 15 minutes I was fed up and wanted to turn back. Which is not conducive to going out for nice long rides, as I often did, I may have slogged on for a bit longer, but then turned back.

Then Gavin bought me SPD pedals and shoes for Christmas, and I hoped that after I had got used to the things and my fear of falling over while still attached to the bike then everything would improve.

To a certain extent it did, going up hills was so much easier. But everything still felt really awkward, not to mention my nether regions hurt after each ride, even with padded shorts. I didn’t want to go out for a bike ride. Training for a marathon, hideous weather and injury meant that I didn’t get out much over winter.

In the end I ordered a new saddle and Gavin bought a bike pump with a pressure gauge on it. On went the new saddle and the tyres up to the recommended pressure. And off I went. WOW!! The difference was amazing, I no longer slogged along the road, I flew down it comfortable nd confident. I ended up doing 20K -bar far the longest distance and I felt so proud.

Now I am actually thinking I could join in with a group cycle ride without being too worried (only a beginners session, but still) and I am looking forward to doing that soon.

I am going to go along to my local physio, who does bike alignments and make sure I am set up properly with my dodgy joints it is really important that I am not doing myself a mischief and not realising it! I look forward to clocking up my miles on my bike now, rather than feeling guilty about it being sat in the shed and not being used!

***edited to add, since I wrote this I have agreed to do a time trial tonight. I am rather nervous, but excited too!!***

Neck update

I got the results of my MRI scan and it is relatively positive news. There is minor degeneration in two of the vertebrae in my neck  but it is not all bulging out and I don’t need surgery  which is a big relief, as you can imagine. However, it does mean that the pain in my neck isn’t going to go away and get better and I will always need to be aware of it.

I have two options open to me – I can be referred to the pain clinic, who will be able to do acupuncture and injections, or wait till September so I can have more physio. I can’t have physio on it until then as I have already had some, and you can only have one block of treatment on the same area within a 12 month period.

At the moment I have an open appointment, so I can go back for a referral either way. I am not sure what to do at the moment, physio last time worked for a short period of time, but then the pain came back. The pain clinic might be a better option.

The pain in my neck has lessened a great deal since I have stopped running. Which in itself makes me very sad. I do love swimming, but there is a simplicity of running which I just don’t get from either swimming or cycling. I might see how I am doing in a few months, I suspect my general tension and stress levels also contribute towards the pain in my neck, so if I can learn to reduce this that will help – something I have been working on for a very long time! I suspect training for the marathon didn’t help, nor did my running posture, which a session with Helen did straighten out, but maybe it was too late.

So, I have decided that I am not going to run until Buster is given the all clear to go running too, which is likely to be anytime between September and January – depending on what the vet says. As Buster doesn’t run on the roads, neither will I, we will stick to trail paths. Hopefully this will mean that I will be able to run again.

The result of this decision is that the triathlon season is pretty much out for me this year. Which is disappointing, but I feel that my health is more important than entering races.

To keep my fitness up I am going to be focusing on my swimming and cycling – posts coming up on how that is going!

Bras not necessary!

Right, I will fully admit to this being a completely reactionary post, without further research. OK, so with that out of the way here is my rant…

A French professor of SPORTS SCIENCE reckons that bras are not necessary. Read the Guardian article here.

Are you joking me?! Do you have any idea what it is like to have breasts?? No you don’t do you because you are a man. You don’t know what it is like to have breasts swollen from periods to the extent that it hurts to move about, even with an extremley supportive bra.

Or deal with how annoying they are when they get in the way when doing things.

Never mind when we are actually running. I would be is so much pain if I didn’t wear a good sports bra (I was going to do a review of mine, but it just broke – I am waiting to see if they will replace it…) not to mention slowed down, even more than I am normally. I might get a black eye, or someone else might.

So, humorous rant over…there doesn’t seem to be links to the original research at the Guardian, but I am going to use this to talk about something I tell women about as much as I can.

Please ladies, if you do any sort of sports activity at all then get a good sports bra (fitted properly) to help protect your breasts. Once those ligaments have stretched they cannot be tightened again and saggy boobs are the result. And more importantly exercise is so much better without bouncing all over the place. I look at women running without sports bras and all I can think about it how uncomfortable they must be and if they are a larger lady like me they must be in considerable pain! They must hurt – both their breasts and their backs. And remember sports bras need replacing when they stop supporting so much, I know they are expensive, but they really are worth it.

So ignore  the silly French professors, please get a sports bra, even if you are blessed with small breasts, you will be so much more comfortable and then more likely to work out!

Back to Basics

My fitness has somewhat taken a bit of a tumble, partly due to the pain in my neck, which has stopped me from running, partly due to the arrival of a puppy – who is taking up an awful lot of time and energy and partly due to post quitting the marathon blues.

This, combined with comfort eating entire packets of Boasters biscuits has led to inevitable weight gain. Which of course makes me feel even less likely to want to go out and exercise. My running gear (and jeans) are now on the *ahen* snug side, so I am bulging out over the sides, which makes me feel rubbish.

etc, etc, ad nauseum.

So, in order to combat this I am going back to basics with my fitness plan. My running is back to focusing on 5K x2 a week, 2 swims a week, 1 cycle a week and two home yoga sessions a week.

I know its not much, but if I set myself out a higher plan which is more challenging there is a chance that I will aggravate injuries, or just not want to go out at all.

So, little, little, gently, gently, and hopefully I will get back on the fitness wagon without hurting my neck further, or damaging myself. If after a couple of weeks I want to increase it then I will do so, if I want to attend club training sessions in addition to, or instead of, my planned sessions I will do so.

A week Friday my puppy will be allowed to go outside properly and I will be able to start taking him for gentle, short walks twice a day. This will also help – I also have no excuses for not doing this, as he will look at me with big, sad eyes.

This is a massive change from the high mileage training I was doing –  I did 73 running miles in Feb, but my body just couldn’t sustain it. I seem to exercise like I eat – huge binges of high exercise/healthy eating, followed by a crash and junk food and low exercise results. I am convinced the high mileage led to injury, which results in comfort eating. Which equals weight gain and less inclination to exercise once the injury is healing back up again.

So, slowly I will build back up again, and for now, aim to do 10Ks a couple of times a week as my 6 month plan, in addition to cycling and swimming.

Women’s Running Magazine

Before I got on to my main point, I thought I would tell you what happened at the appointment I mentioned last time – well she caused me an awful lot of pain, which was a damn sight worse than it was when I walked in. I couldn’t do much for quite a while, and it really worried me. The bad news is as I had physio for my neck under a calendar year ago, they will not treat me again. So I have an appointment for an MRI at the end of April to figure out exactly what the problem is and then be referred to the ‘Pain Clinic’. Which quite frankly sounds ominous and as if they will cause pain, not help it!

The physio was lovely – she does triathlon and was actually top of her age group last year at the Lakeside Triathlon. Very impressive. I did recommend EETC to her, but she likes training on her own.

To ease back into things I am doing an awful lot of swimming, which I am really, really enjoying and I have cut my mileage right back on the running to nothing. As we have had a lot of ice I am not going out on my bike until that has finished!

Anyway – onto the point of this post.

I follow Women’s Running on Twitter and they asked the question:

photo (1)

Would you dump your partner because they didn’t like running?

To which I responded:

photo (2)

I thought this was a dreadful question, so I responded! This isn’t my full response, what I actually said was:

No! My husband doesn’t run, but is so supportive of me in my running. He encourages me to run when I don’t really want to, encourages me to rest when I want to keep going and comes to all of my races with me. Often standing around in the cold waiting for me to come in near the back of the pack! 

When I did the Notorious Night run and ended up with a nasty blister which was covered in gunk due to having run through boggy ponds he cleaned it out for me when I just couldn’t reach over and do it myself as I was so sore and exhausted. What makes that even more remarkable is that my husband is really foot phobic, he hates them so much! So this was a real act of love for him. 

So, I married someone who doesn’t run and I love him nonetheless.

You can see why they edited it – it was a bit long. Still I was rather pleased! And so was my wonderful husband.
If you want to follow me on Twitter I am @jenfarrant – I tweet about exercise, the arts and randomness!
I will be easing back into running with a gentle jog today, and then heading on out to the Crown 2 Crown 5K race tomorrow. I think I can stretch to the 5K entry fee!

Off to Orthopaedics/Rheumatology

My left shoulder has been playing up for a while. In August last year it was getting painful in everyday life, and I started to not use it so much for things, and favouring it slightly. Then I was around at a client’s house and their chair collapsed beneath me (always great for the ego that!) and I fell and jarred that shoulder even more.

The movement became so restricted that I couldn’t move it away from my side and it was causing me so much pain that I went to our really rather wonderful walk in centre. They gave me lots of painkillers and then referred me onto physio. September saw about 4 physio treatments, and the man with magic hands did something to my neck and all of the movement came back – hurrah.

Then earlier this year the pain started to come back again and it was hurting during running, sitting at my desk, driving, not doing anything…. So I asked for a referral from my drs to physio. I got a phone call and they are not sending me straight to physio, I am going to Orthopaedic/Rheumatology for a full assessment before they send me on to what ever they think.

I was quite impressed by that – they are looking at the bigger picture, rather than just putting me through physio again! What I didn’t tell my physio was about the hypermobility – not because I didn’t want to, I just didn’t put two and two together – my shoulders have always been one joint not badly affected by it. So it didn’t occur to me.

I will be telling this person and seeing if they think it is connected. I have stopped swimming at the moment, as the pain is getting to be quite bad (which is rubbish, as swimming is a great no impact way to work out!). I have a 5K swim coming up at the end of April and I am only up to 2K in my training.

So, we shall see what happens today. I am hopeful that they will be able to sort me out and worried that they wont and this is just another thing that I have to adapt to…..

Exciting times

I grew up with dogs and always wanted my own dog. My husband isn’t that keen on dogs and has always been very against the idea. Recently he has slowly come around to the idea and we were talking about getting a Springer Spaniel. He didn’t want us to get one just yet, but we were still talking and thinking about it.

However for Valentine’s day I got this present:

best present ever...

Along with it an a-ok to go ahead and get a dog! There may have been some squealing !

So, after some searching on the Kennel Club’s website we found some puppies and this weekend we went along chose one – and here he is – Buster!

Buster the puppy!

I am really looking forward to him coming home in a couple of weeks and in the meantime we are puppy proofing the house and garden. I will train him well, so that when we get the all clear from the vets (probably when he is over 9 months), I will be able to start him on a pooch to 5K training plan so that he will become my training buddy! This means I will be able to go out to trails and things which I wouldn’t venture on my own, as I will have someone with me and make me feel that bit safer, as well as provide me with company!

I can’t wait!