…an update

It’s been over two years since I last posted anything on my blog. This was partly because I *really* needed to concentrate and finish my PhD, and partly because I went off the boil climbing-wise. In fact, so off the boil that I’ve stopped climbing completely.

This happened way back in April 2015 when my partner and I, along with other friends went to Font. Just a couple of weeks earlier, I had gone out on a bike ride and managed to fall off (in a terribly embarrassing way). In doing so, I’d hurt my shoulder and elbow. When we arrived in Font, the psyche wasn’t there. I was carrying an injury and didn’t really feel that I was completely with it. It probably didn’t help that I was getting up at 7am to work on my PhD before heading out to climb. Anyway, on the final day of the trip I went back to try Lapin ou Canard. I got the closest that I ever have, but still didn’t manage it. Then my partner fell and badly sprained his ankle. This meant that all climbing stopped.

When he was recovering, we started mountain biking again. I discovered that I could get hold of the fear and use it, and progressed really well. It also helped that we’d booked a 5 week trip to Canada/USA to watch the UCI Downhill World Cup in Quebec and New York State. Once we returned from the trip, I didn’t really want to climb anymore. My shoulder still hurt. I was weak and my heart wasn’t in it.

Fast forward to now, and I’m a fully psyched cyclist of the road and off-road variety (although there is still a love/hate relationship there). In fact, our honeymoon is to go and spend 2 weeks cycling in the south of France. Training for that is going pretty good. I’m averaging about 100km a week – and my average speed has increased from about 40km/week average at 21 kph to 100km p/w at 26kph. We plan to ride up alpe d’huez again and try to better our times (mine was 1:12:57). We also want to do Mont Ventoux and Col du Glandon, although I’m not sure that’s going to happen!

Other things have changed too. I have finished my PhD (still awaiting final confirmation of outcome) and have a job as a lecturer in law at a university in the Midlands. The commute can be hard, but it’s a job and I’m working with some really enthusiastic people.

I’m not sure what direction this blog will take. I want to start using it more, and it might become more of a log of my research, with some training chat thrown in. I’ll try to keep those to parts separate – but as I often get ideas while training – I’m not sure how separate these two parts will be!



A weak session at the Climbing Works

After my much happier climbing session on Wednesday, I was pretty drained on Friday. I really wanted to finish the redraft of Chapter 2 of my PhD, so worked pretty intensively on Thursday and Friday. When I finished work, I really didn’t fancy climbing, and the fact that there weren’t any new circuits to try didn’t really help either.

My training program told me to do a Zone 3/4 play circuit, which didn’t really help as there wasn’t anything that I wanted to play on. I was supposed to have done a Zone 2 ‘recovery circuit’ on the Thursday, but that didn’t happen because I had loads of work to do and wasn’t feeling that great. In sum, unlike Wednesday, my psych had up sticks and moved on.

I tried to play on some yellows and some whites. I did actually manage to do a couple of quite hard moves on the yellows (I had forgotten about that – it’s quite useful to log things isn’t it?). There was one that I was quite chuffed about – it involved a strong shoulder move, and trying to keep my feet on. After a couple of goes, I managed to find a way to hold the strong move by using a toe hook and then trying to push up off my foot for another hold. That’s where I kept falling off. It’s very strong move, and one that I’m not sure I’ll get but I’ll keep trying. After trying that a couple of times, and some other yellows, I got bored and cold.

In the end I played on a number of reds (they were the newest set) and then got cold. I was tired and wanted my curry. Hopefully, the Works will reset the yellows or wasps some time soon! Although – saying that – the way that I feel right now, I’d quite like them to wait a week or so!

Back on the Wave at the Foundry

I don’t know why, but it’s felt like an age since I last climbed on the Wave. It was really, really quiet last Wednesday – that probably had something to do with the weather. It had been warm (ish) and sunny for most of the day. I wouldn’t be surprised if many were out climbing on actual rock rather than just plastic. I wish I was outside, but due to other commitments it wasn’t possible.

My training plan said to focus on steep terrain. I aimed to keep to Zone 3/4 and tried to keep strong climbing on steep terrain. I actually felt pretty happy to climb on the Wave.  I even managed to keep my feet on as well!

Anyway, I still felt strong and pretty good. In fact, after warming up (slowly), I managed to top 3 new L2s – some on the Wave! I was very pleased with myself and felt very strong.

A Pink L2. Photo: CanadianKate

 At least, until I bashed my knee against the bomb bay and fell off. It hurt like the dickens! Luckily that was near the end of the session and after warming down, it was dinner time.

In sum, I was very strong and happy to be climbing – clearly the ‘rest’ week had done me good. I was, once more, psyched to climb!

A trip to the Leeds Climbing Depot

After breaking myself cycling on Sunday, I wasn’t particularly psyched to cycle on the Monday. Truth be told, not that many of the group were either. We cleaned up the cottage, and decided to head to the Depot on our way back to Sheffield to break the journey. I haven’t been to the Depot for quite a while, so all the problems were going to be new and fun. And they were!

After warming up slowly – I was feeling quite creaky after Sunday – I started on the Pink circuit which was from the winter bouldering league. It started very easy at about V0 and went up to about V10 (F4- 7C+) and there were 30 or so problems. We got up to problem 18 and then started to get shut down (so about V4-5(ish)) and then moved on to trying other problems. I decided to try the V3-V5 circuit using natural wood holds. Surprisingly I actually flashed a couple too! I loved the name of the holds as well:

Crusher holds. Photo: CanadianKate

I think we climbed for a couple of hours all told. I felt really, really strong and was climbing smoothly. Granted I mainly climbed problems that suited my strengths rather than working my weaknesses but it was fun just to climb new things as both the Foundry and the Works haven’t re-set any circuits in my working grade range for a while. I can’t wait for the Wasps to be taken down at the Works!

Some stats:

  • Worked a number of pinks. Topped most up to about Problem 14, then took a couple of goes until Problem 17.
  • Played on the woody circuit. Topped a couple of them.

Cycling from Alnwick to Shilbottle, Northumberland

I am getting so far behind in my blog posts! I apologise – but my PhD is somewhat more important!

So, here’s a blog post about my trip to Northumberland (21-23 February). After running on the Saturday, I went for a ride on the Sunday. I definitely chose the wrong day to ride – it was stupidly windy, not very warm and a bit dreary. I felt shocking!

I lagged out far, far, far behind my OH and the other friends. It made me miserable because I was trying to keep my heart rate down to a sensible level (i.e. Zone 2) as I was ‘actively’ resting. At one point I was lagging behind by about 1/2 km. It felt like such a ridiculous effort to keep myself in that Zone.

That, in addition to the very difficult gusts of wind, made the whole thing not particularly fun. Perhaps the ‘best’ moment of the ride was when I was heading down hill to a dip and a kink in the road and the whole of the bike was picked up and set aside. I whimpered lots at that point and began to really hate the whole experience.

Luckily we were heading back to the cottage by that point. We started to get the wind behind us rather than to the side and that made the ride back much easier. I also discovered that my brake callipers had been adjusted by the wind which meant that I effectively had the brake on the whole time.

We got home about 10 minutes into the Olympic hockey final. I had a stretch, quick shower and settled down to watch Canada trounce the opponent to win the gold once again.

Some stats:

  • Distance: 15.12 km
  • Elevation gain: 261 m
  • Time: 54:21
  • Speed: 10:4 minutes/h

Running and Cycling in Lesbury, Northumberland

I have been meaning to go to Northumberland for a very long time. It has castles, beaches, really good bouldering and quiet roads; so when the opportunity arose to go for a long weekend I jumped on it. Unfortunately this trip didn’t include bouldering, but it did include running and cycling around Lesbury – and it was such a good weekend!

We arrived on the Friday and got settled into the house. Unlike earlier trips with this group, we planned the run on the Saturday morning and then went to bed fairly early. Clearly we’re all getting older.

Saturday dawned bright and clear. I was in a dither of whether to go for a run with the rest of the group, or go for a ride with the OH. The weather was better for riding on the Saturday, but as I was still trying to rest ‘actively’, I figured I would be able to do that easier while running than by cycling. So, off I ran.

Once again my Garmin took ages to get going. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to be able to find satellite information for the first 10 minutes of the run. This meant that I ‘lost’ about 2 km of the run. I’m having a fair number of problems with Garmin at the moment – but that is another blog post.

The day was so beautiful. It was quite windy – and the wind was cold, but considering that I haven’t really run in the sun for a long time I wasn’t complaining. We ran from the rented cottage through the village of Lesbury and then out onto the flood meadows by a small river. It was quite muddy here, but that’s to be expected considering the amount of rain recently. The river was very pretty – with proper loops and a meandering course. After running along it for about ½ km, we then climbed up a hill and ran along the road through Alnmouth village to the beach.

Running along the river. And getting a bit lost. Photo: CanadianKate

The tide was out and the sands were glorious. It was one of those very bright days, and because of the wind, the sand was being blown into beautiful patterns over the top of the beach. We ran along it for a while before heading back inland to the cottage through Alnmouth golf course.

Alnmouth Beach. Photo: CanadianKate

I managed to keep my heart rate in Z2 and felt fine for much of the run. Luckily my friend was also happy to run at such a slow pace as well and we had a catch up while the boys scampered in front. By the time we got home, I had logged the longest distance since mid January and I felt fine. However, I’m not entirely sure how ‘restful’ it was!

Alnmouth Beach. Photo: Jerry Ibberson

Some stats:

  • Distance: 8.8 km
  • Time: 1:07:07
  • Elevation gain: 111 m
  • Pace: 7:36 km

Year to date:


  • Distance: 104.7 km
  • Time: 12:42:00
  • Elevation gain: 2008 m
  • Runs: 18

Trying to rest ‘actively’ is quite difficult

On Saturday, I published a blog about the importance of rest, and the signs of over training. After reading through them and noting that I’m really eating crap, not performing well, a bit crabby, and generally meh, I decided to take a rest week. However, as all my friends were still coming to the Foundry on the Wednesday, I figured that after 2 days of  full rest, 1 day of active rest wouldn’t hurt.

Well, wasn’t I wrong on that? I was so very tired. After doing about 2 moves on L2s, and 4 moves on L1s I needed to rest. The problems looked really fun and because I hadn’t had a chance to play on them I *may* have pulled harder than I ought. This meant that I worked a couple of L2s instead of puttering around on the L1s, actually listening to my body.

On the plus side I topped 2 of the L2s. I had to work on one to get the sequence and the flick to a hold. The other, I had a sordid battle, but topped it on the flash. In hindsight, this wasn’t a great idea. Clearly I was tired, everything felt hard. I totally misread the sequence and had to use strength and thuggery to get up it. I lost my feet a couple of times and really wrenched my shoulder. In fact, I finished climbing after that because I felt so rubbish.

What I did learn, is that active recovery can’t be interpreted as pulling hard on L2s because they’re new. No matter how gently I want to try them, I will pull strong. Instead, come down, have a chat and don’t feel bad about not doing anything!