Janathon Day 31 – my 5km race, which wasn’t that racy

I’ve been feeling very tired in the last week or so. It’s partly been insomnia related and partly because I may have been doing too much – trying to follow both a 10 km training program and also pulling hard, quite often on the same day is exhausting. So, I’ve pulled back and had a proper rest in the final week of January. This meant that I felt fairly fresh when I got out of bed on Friday to go for the last ‘real’ run until after I get back from Font.

I decided to follow a run that I did right back at the beginning of January and compare my timings. It’s not a direct comparison, because I didn’t use a heart rate monitor when I first started running after my physio said that I could start back again.

Here’s my stats for the first time I tried the same(ish) route back at the end of 2013.

  • Distance: 5.01
  • Time: 32:01
  • Pace: 6:23 min/km
  • Heart rate: mainly Z3, high-end

I had some errands to do as well, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and started with the same route as my original 5.1 km but then added a little bit more so I could do my errands. This involved a horribly steep hill (Conduit Road for anyone who reads this from Sheffield) and that really didn’t help maintain my heart rate in Zone 3. Also, I broke my phone by dropping it in coffee and I couldn’t rely on my Spotify playlist and had to use my iPod which has good music, but not necessarily at the correct tempo.

I’m not entirely sure that I can see a difference or improvement in my running or cardio fitness. I ran my 5.7 km ‘race’ in 35:25 minutes, with an average pace of 6:13 min/km. This is faster than back in December, but I would have liked to see more improvement. However, my HR was much lower in general – in the lower end of Z3. I think my average would have been much lower if I didn’t have the usual issue of running in the cold – my HR monitor kept giving anomalous readings because I was cold so there was a poor contact. According to it, I jumped from 131 bpm to 178 bpm in less than a minute. Both when I was running at an easy pace. I also ran a hillier course, too.

So, here are the stats of my final Janathon run:

My 5km ‘race’

  • Distance: 5.7 km
  • Time: 35:25
  • Pace: 6:13 min/km
  • Elevation gain 97 m

My running errands/warm down run:

  • Distance: 0.8 km
  • Time: 7:48
  • Pace: 9:56 min/km
  • Elevation gain: 51 m

I have really enjoyed Janathon. It’s made me get out and actually do something everyday and establish a routine rather than the more ad hoc training that I usually do. While there wasn’t that much improvement between my final 5 km run in 2013 and the 5 km run at the end of January, I have improved my pace in Z3, and can maintain a lower heart rate as well. However, what this month has really taught me is that doing less is more. Running in Z2 and occasional Z2/Z4 intervals and hill reps are more effective than going out for ‘long’ runs at max heart rate. I didn’t feel as fatigued after each run and could happily run 2 days in a row. In terms of training for a race, I could definitely maintain this approach. I also managed to log a significant distance (for me):

My running stats for January:

  • Distance 85.7 km
  • Time 10h 7m
  • Elev Gain 1,588 m
  • Runs 15

This means that I have run on at least 1/2 of the days in January and could have run to Hathersage via Buxton and Bakewell (86.7 km) caught the train home:

In terms of trying to combine climbing and running training, it didn’t work so well. I found I was still quite fatigued when I was climbing – probably because I was trying to do two very different types of activities – often on the same day. Towards the end of January, my energy levels really dipped and I had to take the hard decision of pausing my 10 km race training in order to focus on bouldering. I’d accidentally timed my race 3 days before going to Font, and I wouldn’t be able to give my full effort to both at the same time. That said, I am going to continue to run, and try to fit at least 1 ‘maintenance’ run in per week, but climbing is my main focus between now and March. 

So, my aim for the next 2 months is to get fit for Font. I’ve written a training plan which I’ve uploaded under ‘Training Plans’ and thus far, I’ve stuck to it. Although, it is only the 2nd day!


Janathon Day 26 – Sometimes sports bite back

I was out of sorts on Sunday. It was a crap day – the weather sucked, I was feeling pretty tired and I was slowly coming to the conclusion that something was going to have to give: if I want to do well in Font, I will have to reduce my running commitments – and that bummed me out too.

Anyway, I’ve started following the training ideas that me and Diane developed and as my warm up, I used the Foundry’s traversing wall to practice cross-through climbing and no matching on the L1 traverses. This really does help loosen up my back! After a couple of reps and making sure that I reversed each problem, I moved  onto the two L2 traverses and flashed both – such a nice feeling for my ego!

I decided to focus on steep terrain and work on foot work in the session, but first I had to dispatch a problem which I totally should have flashed. After using a heel hook (how did I miss that?!) I flashed it and then turned to working steep stuff. I tried a couple of the problems in the Wave, but it was full of Wads and super strong people, and was quite busy. I moved to the low roof and tried to link the bottom of a L2 that I tried on Wednesday.

I refreshed my memory and then went for a hold with a lot of force. Unfortunately a blue hold from a L1 problem decided to get in my way (it was totally its fault) and I banged my elbow so bad that it went numb and I wanted to throw up. I sat for about 10 minutes trying not to cry, and waiting for feeling to come back, which it did, but there was no way that I would be able to train any more that day. I was pretty gutted – I don’t have that much time before Font, and I really want to be in good condition when I get there.

I tried to do a couple of L1s, but even that hurt and the OH pushed me up the stairs and told me to stop climbing. I finally took his advice and put some ice on the bump. I haven’t done any permanent damage, but it really hurt the next day!

My session

Warm up

  • Traversing L-R, R-L in the traversing corridor
  • Climbing ‘wrong handed’

Main session

  • Working steep terrain
  • Attempted 3 problems, didn’t top any of them but progressed

Warm down

  • A cup of tea and an ice block

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 22 – New problems at the Foundry!!

I love, love, love the new problems at the Foundry. They’re good fun, a good range of difficulty and did I say fun?

The Foundry had another winter bouldering league comp last Monday, and they stripped the whole bouldering wall for it. On Tuesday, they added more problems and filled in the blanks. I didn’t go to the comp (not really my thing) but was super excited to try them on Wednesday.

After warming up on some L1s and playing around for a bit, I tried some of the L2s. One of my friends said that they were much easier this set than the last but clearly I chose a problem which was still hard. It started at the bottom of the wave and included a strong move off an okay hold, using a heel hook to gain a really crappy pinch – which I could only hold by guppying it. After that, it was a case of moving my feet around to try and pop to a better, but not great hold. That was as far as I got. I kept falling off, or not getting enough height to go to the next. It’s definitely a worker and also nice to know that Diane had similar problems latching that move.

After about 4 goes on the fluoro yellow L2, tried the pink next to it. I flashed it, and it felt awesome!! I had a short rest and then tried another fluoro yellow problem on the far left-hand side of the Wave. I flashed that too!!

By this point, I was getting tired and only had enough in the tank for two more problems. I tried a fluoro yellow to the right of the Wave, in a small groove. It was technical – so I knew I was unlikely to flash it. Guess what? I didn’t flash it. I had to figure out short people’s beta and then get some bravery going. I worked out the sequence though, and I’ll definitely get it next session.

The final problem I tried was on the low roof and I didn’t get anywhere on it. I was clearly tired, the OH was poorly and I wanted food. I’ll start with that one next time!

Oh – and I have some ideas to structure my climbing sessions from now until Font – but I’ll post about that separately.

Some stats:

  • Warmed up on 6-7 L1
  • Flashed 2 L2
  • Worked 3 L2s
  • Attempted 5 L2s in total

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

Janathon Day 19 A ‘rest’ day aka Muay Thai and Climbing at the Works

I had an early start on Sunday morning. My friends and I had a Muay Thai lesson (thai kickboxing) starting at 11am. I woke up a bit late, so only had time to grab a coffee, stuff some food into me and head to the gym. Considering the pain that I was in after my last Muay Thai class (and that wasn’t a private lesson) I was a bit nervous about how I was going to cope, especially as my ‘recovery’ run on Saturday really wasn’t a recovery.

According to Wikipedia, Muay Thai is:

‘known as “the art of eight limbs” because it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet, being associated with a good physical preparation that makes a full-contact fighter very efficient. Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the twentieth century, when practitioners defeated notable practitioners of other martial arts.'[Source]

We learnt the first style of kicking, which basically involves using the shin of the front leg and kicking your opponent in the thigh with the intention to give them a dead leg. After practicing kicking the air for a while, we then practiced against each other. The intention wasn’t to properly kick each other, but to get the aim right and get a feel for how to kick. Then the practice pads came out.

love kicking. I love being able to use aggression and force to kick things really hard, but with purpose. I think I did quite well – although the clear winner was my friend who used to train all the time – that and she’s a natural athlete. I found that by dipping my shoulders I could get more force in my kick and it made such a satisfying noise! We practice kicking with both legs and took turns hold the pad. By this point it was nearing the end of the lesson so to finish our instructor had us practice against bags for a 3 minute bout. I loved this part of the lesson! My shins were pretty damn sore, but I felt such satisfaction for basically kicking the shit out of an inanimate object. I can’t wait to start punching and kicking at the same time.

To finish the lesson our instructor had us do a 3 minute mini ‘circuit’ of push-ups, sit-ups, star jumps and tuck jumps. I hadn’t done something like that since I left British Military Fitness, and it brought back the pain and  fun of doing short bursts and brutal series of exercises. Our instructor was pretty impressed by the level of fitness we had. We then left, shins significantly redder than before.

I went home, had some food and then went climbing at the Works. I didn’t crush as hard as I did on Friday, but I didn’t really expect to. I managed some more of the black circuit and did a couple of new problems on the comp wall. Annoyingly – I kept tickling the top hold on one which is totally within my ability! Funnily, it was my head that was not in the right place – I didn’t want to commit to certain moves and that limited what I was willing to try, and also whether or not I topped a problem. Mainly, I was quite tired and generally just wanted to go home and read my book. 

Rather bruised shins after Muay Thai. Photo: CanadianKateHere is a photo of my shins on Sunday evening. The photo really doesn’t do justice to the size and colour of the bruises!