Attack of the killer pollen

I’ve just got back from today’s run. I let myself sleep in a little to make up for a few nights in a row of less than my usual eight hours sleep. While this was a good idea, given that I have an extremely heavy work-week ahead of me, it meant that the roads were busy with people, and the temperature a little warmer. 14 degrees C is hardly the 30+ degrees that I experienced last week in south Spain, but it was enough that I didn’t go out with a jumper and started sweating pretty quickly into my run. It also meant that my face, always quick to colour through heat, exertion or embarrassment, quickly glowed a red-purple colour. Every person I ran past looked at me as though I was about to have a heart attack. No really, I wanted to tell them, I’m fine, it’s just my face. Here is a good reason for running at 6:30am – no one to witness my rosy face, and my embarrassment of it’s alarming colour only making the problem worse.

So add to this the problem of pollen. I suffer with Hayfever from March through to the end of September – I’m lucky like that. But, since this is the case every year, I have a routine of taking anti-histamines from the first day of March through to the first day of October. So far this year, armed in this way, Hayfever has not been much of a problem. Until today. As I made my way round my route, I could feel the gentle tingling sting in my nose. I sneezed, a lot. Thankfully I had tissues with me to deal with the constant stream from my nose. Add a bright red, streaming nose to my already glowing face and a pretty picture you do not have. No wonder people were giving me strange looks. All the same, I wish they’d kept them to themselves.

I had no stiffness after yesterday’s run, which was surprising but welcome. Maybe it’s a sign that my body has started to accept being made to work on an almost daily basis. If so, thank you, body, for adapting so quickly. Maybe it’s a sign that despite how the run felt, I didn’t push myself as hard as I thought.

I thought today’s session of 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking, 2 minutes running, 1 minute walking for 28 minutes would be easier than yesterday’s session. Nope. That extra 8 minutes, even with the alternating shorter running interval, made itself felt. It wasn’t burn in my legs though, it was my body’s reluctance to keep going. I felt tired and in constant battle with my willpower. When I came to the end of each walk interval I begged my running app to announce “end of workout” so I could walk the rest of the way. When it did finally come, I said “Thank you!” with such force that I made an old lady walking her dog jump.

Now that I’m home, I am sneezing constantly, and the tingle in my nose has spread to my throat. I’ve used a box of Kleenex trying to stop my nose from running, and now my eyes are itching and streaming. Time to get in the shower, and hope that removing all traces of pollen from me will do the trick.

Session stats:

  • Distance: 5.3km
  • Total time: 42m 10s
  • Fastest km: 6:53
  • Slowest km: 9:52
  • Average pace: 7:57
  • Weather: 14 degrees, sunny
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Angry running

The alarm went off at 9am. I had planned to get up earlier but ended up reading until 2am, mesmerised by the end of the book I was reading for a review. Books, good ones, have that power over me – just one more page, just until the end of the chapter, well it seems silly to leave just a few pages left… you get the picture. I hit snooze for 15 minutes – I have never been able to leap out of bed as soon as the alarm sounds. It hurt this morning, and I was very tempted to turn the alarm off and keep sleeping until I woke up naturally, but I was determined to not let today turn into the waste of time that yesterday turned into. Just get on with it, I thought to myself. I grabbed my running gear as I walked down stairs, jumped on the scales (22.9% body fat – yes!), got dressed, made up a bottle of protein shake, heavily watered down, drank half of it, and walked out the door.

I had originally planned to redo session one of my training plan as doing session four would mean starting the week two programme ahead of schedule, but having had a day off yesterday it seemed lazy to give myself an easy run. I selected session four and got running: run for 3 minutes, walk for 1 minute. The 3-minute intervals were tough from the outset. A muscle in my right glute was twinging, and I wanted to turn around, go home, and go back to bed. No. Keep going. Grit your teeth, get through it, get home, get on. Don’t be a baby.

It was an angry run. The more I ran, the angrier I felt. I even started thinking about a conversation I’d had earlier in the week that had really pissed me off, and mentally had an argument with the other person, which just made me feel even crosser. But then, just as I was wondering how many more of these bloody intervals I had left, the Runtastic app announced “end of workout” in my ears. I was surprised. That seemed quick. I checked my phone: the session was 20 minutes long, and it was 20 minutes since I’d left the house. Ok then. I was half way through my 5km, so I walked the rest.

By the time I got home, my mood had lifted a little but had been replaced with a thumping headache. Thankfully, breakfast and a large cup of tea fixed that. I have never been a fan of breakfast, but have settled on porridge (with milk) with fruit as something I can stomach, which tastes sweet enough to satisfy my tooth, but without a heavy calorie toll. Tea is non-negotiable. I will not function or be capable of anything better than a growl without it.

The great news, given the disaster of yesterday, is that I didn’t let myself sit down on the sofa. I ploughed on through the todo list. So, lesson learned. When feeling crappy and unproductive, get out the door and get moving – it will save the day.

Just because you did it once doesn’t mean you’ll do it again

I woke up with stiff legs from yesterday’s run. It took a while to get my body moving and to stop walking like an old lady. To add insult to injury I also woke up with stomach cramps, deep, painful cramps that travelled down my legs and made them feel like lead. I took paracetamol and then, because it was raining, I started working my way through my to-do list. By the time I had come back from a hospital appointment in the afternoon, the cramps were still defying the paracetamol, but the day was evaporating so I pushed my feet into my trainers and then out of the door. I have come to the conclusion that if you want to make something a habit, you have to do it every day, no matter what. If you don’t do it every day, you give yourself the room to not do it today. If you think “not today, I’ll do it tomorrow” then you’ll always put it off until tomorrow, and it’ll never get done today.

I selected the second training session from the Runtastic ‘Run 30 mins after 6 weeks training’ plan. This is 25 minutes of run for 1 minute, walk for 1 minute, run for 2 minutes, walk for one minute. The first interval of running for 2 minutes came as a bit of a shock, and towards the end the training session, they were starting to burn a little. At the end of the 25 minutes, I was around 3.5km through my route, so I walked the last 1.5km. Amazingly, the cramps had gone away – it was as though the run had eased the spasming muscles, and maybe the dopamine that exercise releases into the brain had acted as a natural painkiller too. I got back home feeling good.

Now, a couple of hours later, my legs are so stiff! I have to work on site tomorrow, needing to leave home at 8:30am, so I’ve laid out clothes to run in, filled my water bottle, and left everything ready for heading out for a run at 6:30am. So far so good. I hope I manage to drag myself out of bed in the morning.