Brutal end to 2019

Saturday morning’s usually start with me checking the time, noticing that Parkrun is about to start, then either putting the kettle on or going back to dreamland, or both.

Saturday 28th December, involved a slight change of plan with the kettle going on earlier than usual, and stepping on the gas along the A3 while regular Parkrunner’s were falling out of bed.

Heading from London to East Hampshire for Brutal Longmoor 16km run has become an end of year staple, with 2019 being the third consecutive time I’ve taken part in this run.

Arriving just in time to collect my number, activate my springs, flexed limb ready position counting down from ten and off we went.

The course was only slightly tweaked from previous years – taking in a familiar two lap 8km course with plenty of sand dunes, trails, hill climbs (walks and crawls), water features, and twists and turns.

Conditions were fabulous, mild with a slight breeze and humidity. This meant that some water features and sticky mud baths were not as obstructive as in previous years. However, the hills remained challenging and I felt the burn on lap two.

Starting the second lap with the knowledge that I was third place lady and heading for a podium place – I’ve managed to get prizes for Vet winner (KitBrix bag) and 2nd lady (Change IN Bag) on two other Brutal’s I’ve done this year (Bagshot 10km and Hawley Lake 21km) – I took the opportunity to enjoy this lap by crawling in as much mud as possible and taking in the motivational signs on the hills. “To truly enjoy the downhill, you must first conquer the uphill.” I hadn’t noticed any signage on lap 1. Nice. And absolutely not “in the zone,” but in a good place.

Luckily, my too relaxed attitude left enough in the tank for a sprint finish, but I had to crank the pace to earn the prize.

I’ve never been so pleased to win a vest and headband scarf.

Christmas day swimming

Festive chills and thrills of a Christmas day swim are a chilly tradition in the UK, for those whose commitments don’t clash with Parkrun. For me, spending the Christmas holiday’s in South West London ruled out a quick dip in the bracing North Sea or English Channel.

Not entirely convinced by an early start or the pleasure of very cold water swimming – skin swimming in the Thames is organised year-round by Love Open Water – I opted for a midday private swim session at Hampton Pool, guaranteeing a warm and uncongested swim.

Hampton pool is an outdoor heated (28°C) 36m pool. By comparison London Royal Docks is currently 6.8°C.

Hampton pool also held exclusive swims from 5:45am-7:45am. Then open to the public from 8am-midday.

If you are interested in freezing your baubles off, Swimming Society’s crowd-sourced UK Festive Swim Calendar 2019 will help you find your nearest swim over the festive period.

Happy swimming!

Leaping into 2020

Looking back over 2019, the past year has been an unintentional negative split year.

Having picked-up a flu bug in December 2018, and then struggling with tight calves until at least April 2019. The short days and long winter nights incorporated hot yoga (thanks to special offers at The House of Yoga and The Light Centre Monument), a few steady half marathons and cross-country races (including a trip to Leeds with Fulham Running Club for the Saucony National XC Championships), swimming, reflexology, a trial Electro Muscle Stimulation (EMS) session at Ultimate Bodytec (buttock nerve roots tingled for two days) and several osteopath appointments.

Progress and fitness turned a corner at the end of March, coinciding with taking part in a full-day English Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course with a high energy and extremely motivating Fulham Running Club crew, followed by spontaneously running Brutal Bagshot and Spring Wolf Run.

April’s boost in fitness and performance carried-on, no doubt helped by two week’s in Greece as well as improving dietary choices and tracking macros on MyFitnessPal, playing Tag Rugby on Tuesday evening’s, two or three Bodypump classes per week, weekly 60-minute PT sessions and Running Technique Coaching at The Running School.

Fitness-wise, I haven’t looked back since April, and have competed in:

  • SAYSKY Sub Rosa London (unsanctioned/unmarked 10km) run
  • Summer Wolf Run
  • Dartmoor Open Water Swim (2km)
  • Dock to Dock London (5km) swim
  • Swim the Bay (1.2 miles) swim at Weymouth Bay
  • Brutal Hawley Lake (21km) run
  • Swim Rutland (4km) swim
  • Cotswolds (3.8km) swim
  • Autumn Wolf Run x2
  • Brussels Ekiden 2019 (10km) run
  • Winter Wolf Run x2

I also volunteered at the AAT Events Haslemere Triathlon – marshalling on the run section; and marshalled at the OCR World Championships.

Goals for the new year are simply to build on the strength, conditioning and agility gains achieved in 2019.