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


Exploring the footpaths and bridleways around Crosspool

In between the horrendous weather that the UK is having, I managed to go for a run in sunny and not so windy weather. Once again, my Garmin decided obtain signal about a km into my run, but I suppose that was my warm up anyway.

I decided to explore some of the footpaths between Crookes and Crosspool, so I ran towards the Bole Hills and then looped back through some allotments. Because I was not feeling particularly great still, I aimed to run around Z1/Z2 and really level out on the inclines. I think I kept to that for the most part. I didn’t feel like I expended that much energy and my pace certainly suggests that I was taking it easy! My average heart rate was right in the middle of Z2 and I often was in Z1.

It is quite frustrating running so slowly, and feeling like my cardio fitness and running pace is slipping backwards, but I made the conscious decision to focus on climbing and try to maintain my running. I’m still completing 2 runs per week, and my distance has not decreased that much during a 1/2 hour run. I also think that I’m fighting a cold or virus because I’m feeling a bit drained.

On the plus side, I’m slowly putting together some shorter routes that are off-road almost straight from my house, which is great. As much as I enjoy street-running, I do miss off road. Now that I’ve found some footpaths and bridleways very close to me, I’ll actually be able to get off-road more easily and quickly!

Some stats:

  • Distance: 4 km
  • Time: 36:57
  • Pace 9:23/km
  • Elevation gain: 187 m


  • Distance: 97.9 km
  • Time 11:50:00
  • Elevation gain: 1876 m
  • Runs: 17

Zone 2/1 Run around Crosspool

I didn’t feel too great on Monday. I think I was starting to fight a bug or a virus, but still fancied going for a run. In hindsight, it probably was not the best idea in the world. I decided to take it very, very easy and stayed in Z1/Z2. It still felt pretty hard so instead of keeping to one of my circuits where I’d want to put in a good time, I decided to go for a bit of an explore.

After running through Crosspool, I turned off onto a footpath which I’d run past a number of times. I probably hadn’t got the best shoes on for running down muddy footpaths. It was a bit more of a slip and slide rather than a run and it certainly lowered my pace! After getting to the end of the footpath, I turned back up hill and started to head home. I didn’t feel that great by this point, so I lowered my heart rate down to Z1 for the remainder in the run.

Some stats:

  • Distance: 4.2 km
  • Time: 36:00
  • Elevation gain: 101 m
  • Pace: 8:56 min/km


  • Distance: 94 km
  • Time 11:13:00
  • Elevation gain: 1689 m
  • Runs: 16

Janathon Day 27 – Recovery run

After the epic failure in training on Sunday, I wanted to have a nice run to try and feel better about myself. It wasn’t a particularly nice day, and I wasn’t particularly psyched – in fact I was shattered and really couldn’t be bothered. But I sucked it up, and went for a run. I felt pretty good when I was out, but once again I couldn’t control my heart rate.

While running, I finally decided to pause my training plan for running a 10 km ‘race’ until after I return from Font. As I’ve returned to work, and now have to put the hours back into my PhD, there is no way that I can commit to both achieving my running goals and properly training for Fontainebleau. In my next post, I will outline how I intend to maintain my fitness until the 2nd of April and my training schedule for Fontainebleau.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 4.1 km
  • Time – 31:45 min
  • Elevation gain – 88 m
  • Pace – 7:45 min/km


  • Distance – 79.3 km
  • Time – 9:24:00
  • Elevation gain – 1440 m
  • Runs – 13

Training plans and scheduling – it’s harder for two sports!

Janathon Day 25 – a rest day

For the first time in a long time I can actually run. This has been amazing – and I’ve been surprised at how quickly I’ve started to see the changes in my body. I think I’ve lost some body fat, and I definitely feel healthier. However, I’ve also started to feel less psyched about climbing. While I don’t have any problems that I really want to work, I like having some structure to my climbing sessions as I feel like I get more out of them. With this in mind, me and Diane devised a loose set of training goals and structure which could fit around my running schedule. Unfortunately for me, my final 10k ‘race’ is 3 days before we leave for Font, so I’m going to have to balance running and climbing to ensure that I don’t burn myself out in time for Font.

To that end, Diane suggested that I write everything that I need to do between now and March on a calendar. In doing so, I realised how much I actually do and that’s not including the ad hoc kickboxing sessions and the occasional trips away. I’ve included reminders to take stock of how I feel, as I have a tendency – especially when feeling anxious to keep plowing on and adding more stuff to do – when really I should actually have a rest and give myself some recovery time.

My training schedule until March. Photo: CanadianKate

So, in order to try and balance my two main sports (at the moment), I’m going to start following the 10k training programme to the letter. No more letting the runs slide into longer ‘recovery’ runs, or more intervals. As much as I like watching my weight fall, I need to conserve my energy for climbing training – which is a totally different form of exercise.

So, with that in mind, me and Diane have devised a structure that uses Zones like in my running training. Where I’ve had quite a heavy or intense running session, I will have a ‘lighter’ climbing session, somewhere in the region of Z2 rather than Z5 and vice versa. I’m going to stick to 3 sessions a week and occasionally throw in a fourth session if I feel like it – but also remember that recovery is just as important as training.

Using Zones as an indicator of intensity for climbing helps structure the session. I use the warm ups to play with different body positions and enjoy moving; I then focus on one different thing in each session: such as awkward holds, steep climbing, footwork, endurance, and insecure holds and use the warm down (which I’m notorious for forgetting) to practice more dynamic moves between big holds.

My aim for the end of this training cycle is going to Font feeling confident, happy and psyched in Fontainebleau. I’d quite like to try Close Contact (7b+) at Drei Zinnen, I like the moves and it felt within my ability last time I was there. Even if I just get two or three of the moves, it’ll be progress.  So, with that in mind – my psyche is much higher now!

Oh, and as this is another rest day post, here’s another cute picture:

Photo via @emergencypuppy

Ha! I chose a hedghog this time!

But don’t worry, here’s a kitten photo:

Photo via @emergencypuppy

Janathon Day 23: Recovery run in the rain

Thursday didn’t start very well. I was wide awake at 1:30 am. After moving upstairs so the OH would still get a good night’s sleep, I gave up for a while and read my book. Everytime I tried to close my eyes and settle down, my heart would start race and a cyclical series of thoughts would race through my head. Eventually I fell asleep, although I’m not sure what time it was.

When my alarm went off at 7:30 am, I really, really didn’t want to get up. So I didn’t. I had another 30 minutes in bed and then hauled myself upright. I knew that if I didn’t go for a run before breakfast, I probably wouldn’t have time later in the day (or energy).  One issue with working from home is that it is so easy to just stay indoors like a hermit for the whole day, especially if I’ve had trouble sleeping the night before. So I pulled on my running stuff, gathered up my various bits and bobs and stumbled out the door. Straight into a horrible, howling rainy morning. Fun.

Thursday’s training session was another recovery run. It was wet, and quite cold and I wasn’t in the best frame of mind. My Garmin started to play up as well, so I warmed up slowly as I had to reset the thing a couple of times. I probably lost 1/2 km off the length of my run. Luckily, I was warm enough that it didn’t matter I was stopping and starting towards the beginning.

That said, I ran fairly steadily. I seemed to keep my heart rate in Z2, apart from 2 glitches and my legs felt pretty good. I started to get a small ache (really small – almost not even there) in my right knee, so I backed off the pace a bit and concentrated on being both ‘floppy’ and quiet on my feet. That seemed to help, but in doing so, my HR shot up above L2. It’s really hard focusing on two different things at once, when it really shouldn’t be!

I was very strict with myself, and limited the run to 30 minutes. Because I’m keen to start to train for my Font trip in March, I don’t want to burn myself out. So, limiting the amount of time that I am out running and being strict with keeping to the sessions is a good way of doing that.

A rather rainy run. Photo: CanadianKate

I took this photo over the Rivelin Valley. It definitely was wet and windy out there!

Some stats:

  • Distance – 4.1 km
  • Time – 30:48
  • Pace – 7:34 min/km
  • Elevation gain – 80 m


  • Distance – 75.2 km
  • Time  – 08:52:00
  • Elevation gain 1353 m
  • Runs – 12

Janathon Day 20 – yet more intervals…but faster ones this time

As most of my friends know, I really hate early mornings and I really, really hate doing exercise first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, now that I’ve started back at work, the only time that I have to do exercise is in the morning. This meant that I dragged myself out of bed and straight into running tights and shoes on Monday morning. Luckily the weather cooperated and it was a glorious sunny and crisp day. My goal for the day was:

Warm up, 15 minutes. Run, Z4, 2 minutes. Run/Shuffle Z2, 2 minutes. Repeat 3 times. Cool down, 15 minutes.  Stretch

It was cold and crisp when I stumbled out the door. I was not psyched for running and I think I’m hitting one of the many stumbling blocks that will dot the 12 week training path. I digress. It was cold and crisp – well actually freezing when I left the house. I started the slow warm up with gloves and ear warmers on. The pavement was frosty and a week bit slippy. This worried me because I was supposed to be hitting Z4, which would involve me running more than a shuffle pace. I decided to stick to the sunny, relatively flat roads to try and limit the potential for landing on my ass.

Originally I didn’t intend to stick to the 15 minute warm-up, but 10 minutes hit and I still didn’t feel ready to go for a lung busting sprint. I also learnt that coffee really does mess my heart rate around. I could easily keep in Z2 warming up and in recovery during this run. Clearly, I need to train before coffee. That means doing exercise early. Hmmm

After my 15 minutes warm-up, I still wasn’t keen on the idea of pushing my heart rate but went for it. It was so nice to run faster than snails pace – at least for the first 50 seconds. I managed to get my heart rate into Z4 relatively easily and it did hurt a bit to keep it there. I was happy to slow back down to Z2 for the 2 minute shuffle. After 2 reps of this, I started to run out of road. I had to take a diversion and ended up running down a hill and doubling back on myself.

I got some fairly odd looks by sprinting/shuffling, but I felt so good by the time I finished. I did cheat on the warm-down though. I only did 10 minutes.

Some stats:

  • Distance – 5.01 km
  • Time – 30:18
  • Elevation gain – 157 m
  • Pace – 6:03 min/km


  • Distance – 71.1 km
  • Time – 8:21:00
  • Elevation gain – 1272 m
  • Runs – 11