Tag Archives: n2r

31 days of biking

There are a couple of streak challenges out there that have caught my eye over the years. One of these is “Every Day in May“. The aim of this challenge is to complete a physical activity every day for the month of May with the option of raising money for charity while doing so. The challenge is designed mainly for walking and running 5 or 10K each day but in 2017 I decided to do it as a cycling challenge. I completed the challenge with a total of 1500km for the month.

That was the year when I was at my fittest and strongest on the bike. I did my first 200km Audax that May and went on to complete the Four Provinces Challenge and a total of five 200km Audax events for the year starting a four month streak for RRTY that unfortunately died when I missed December. RRTY remains an aspiration for me as does the next level challenge of Super Randonneur.

may 2017 Β© strava

I had the Four Provinces medals framed by one of my friends who is a photographer and it is one of my favourite possessions.

I originally came across Every Day in May when I saw a reference to “30 Days of Biking“. By then it was well into April so I went looking for something similar. I completed Every Day in May in 2019 again, mostly with walking activities, but I’ve never gone back to do 30 Days of Biking. I looked at it earlier this year but with Covid19 restrictions I couldn’t build up enough motivation to ride my bike at all never mind every day.

My running has been going well and I finished the None2Run program at the end of June.

graduation day 5k

Since then I’ve played around with a number of 10K training plans and ran a further four 5Ks while trying to find a good progression plan. Eventually I settled on a modified version of N2R that was suggested by another member of the N2R Facebook group. It involves slow/fast running intervals instead of walking/running for the 25 minutes. It’s the perfect program for me as I eventually worked out that I don’t really want to run 10K, I like intervals, like running early in the morning and don’t want to give up more time in the morning before work. Unfortunately, I’ve managed to pick up an injury after completing the first week when I ran a 5K. It was my fastest 5K ever and I think that was the problem.

27:27 5K pb

The injury is the same as the one that stopped me in my tracks in December. It’s a strained left calf muscle and I worked out in November that it was caused by running too much, too quickly in the program. I figure I’m once again running too fast, too quick and have aggravated the same muscle. I need to slow down and build speed and distance more slowly but first I need to rest and heal.

Initially I decided to walk on my run days but that’s taking a full hour and isn’t really resting my calf. Instead I’ve decided to take on the 30 Days of Biking challenge for the month of August, making it into a 31 Days of Biking. I’m going to keep getting up before work for a 25km/1 hour spin and keep up my longer spins on my days off. In 2017 I managed 1500km and I’ve only hit 1000km three times ever, with the last time being May 2017, so I’m also setting a distance target of 1000km for August just to keep me fully focused each week. It may seem odd to increase my cycling activity to rest my leg but cycling and running use quite different muscles or at least the same ones in different ways.

So far I’m off to a good start with an early morning 25km yesterday and a 74km spin this afternoon to the Ghost House. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday so I’m planning to add another slightly longer spin to keep me ahead of schedule for the month.

The plan is to be a lot fitter and stronger by the start of September and ready to get back running again.

now i’m a runner!

Back in October I started the None2Run program. This is a program for complete beginners, very similar to Couch25K (C25K) but slowed down and extended from 9 to 12 weeks. C25K has a distance aim of 5km at the end whereas N2R is based solely on time. It goes from Week 1 running intervals of 30sec and walking 2min to running 25min in Week 12.

I pushed the program too hard, adding extra time to intervals and running some of them back to back quite early on. This led to pulling a muscle in my left calf that knocked me off running for 2-3 weeks. The injury happened in the middle of December so I wasn’t recovered until Xmas and then laziness set in. Cycling took over a bit in January and it wasn’t until lockdown at the beginning of April that I decided to try again.

I restarted the program on Week 3 as I had been doing quite a bit of walking and figured I had a decent amount of strength in my legs. Apart from a 2 week gap at the beginning of May I’ve been consistently moving through the weeks.

Last week was my first time to run non-stop for 20 min in Week 10. This was a big deal for me as I’ve always said I’m not a runner. Today was the first of my Week 11 runs and I ran a full 5km without walking! Not only that but I ran sub 30min at 29:38. I never thought I’d achieve either of those targets and pleased would be a massive understatement!

the n2r selfie for the facebook group

The mantra on the N2R Facebook group is that if you are running, even for only 30sec, then you are a runner. Last week was a big step but it’s today that I really feel like a runner πŸƒ

click the image to view on strava

Header image by Zain Ali from Pexels

getting back to normal

On Friday last week the government announced that we were moving forward into Phase 2 of the “Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business” on Monday as expected. What wasn’t expected was that the roadmap would be adjusted from 5 to 4 phases and with some accelerated restriction relaxation giving us the snappily named “Phase 2 Plus“.

What was expected was that retail stores were finally allowed to re-open meaning I was fully back to work on Monday morning.

It was very weird going back to work. Everyone was quite anxious about what it would be like, how busy it would be, how we would all cope with the new requirements and changes and how safe everyone would be. This was compounded by the physical changes in the store as a lot of the store had been refitted and painted during lockdown and lots of the displays had been rearranged. It was great to see everyone again and catch up with them but it was amazing how much I’d forgotten about products and the computer system. To me it felt like we had all started a new job on the same day.

In general we’ve been very busy. Nothing unmanageable and so far we haven’t needed to close the doors or enforce a queue outside. It’s been fairly steady and most people know pretty much what they want before coming in. Wednesday was one of the biggest sales days for many years and Saturday was the same. The other days have been like a series of very busy Saturdays and even busier than a peak period like January Sale. I had my own biggest ever personal sales day yesterday so I’ve bounced back pretty quickly and haven’t lost it completely during lockdown.

The downside of all this work business is that it is now interfering with my fitness training πŸ˜† The level of business is tiring as is just being back to work, my step count is way up and I could really feel it at the end of each day in terms of lack of energy as well as tired and sore feet and legs. Work also means less free time and mix that with bad weather on my day off on Wednesday and today is the first time I’ve been able to get out on my bike for over a week.

It has been much easier to keep running and I’ve now finished WK10 of None2Run meaning this week I’ve been running a full non-stop 20min after my warmup walk which I’m really pleased with. I went out twice this week at 6am and the plan is to do that 3 times each week. I much prefer the mornings rather than trying to muster the energy and motivation in the evenings after work.

Β© Garmin Connect

The surprise change in the government’s announcement was that instead of relaxing the 5km limit to 20km we are now permitted unrestricted movement within our own county and 20km into another county if we live close to a county border. This meant that today’s spin was a much more normal route taking in towns and roads that I haven’t ridden for a very long time – September 2019!

Β© Garmin Connect

After a break of 10 days and working all week I had pretty low expectations for today but managed to surprise myself. All the extra steps and running must have had a positive impact as I had an average speed of 27.6km/h over 72km with 505m of climbing. Pretty sure it was my fastest time over that route and I really enjoyed it despite getting soaked twice in very heavy thundery showers. It was a pleasure to ride a regular route without repetition and to be able to stop for a tea break 3/4 of the way around.

i’m just havin’ a break

The incoming week is forecast to be dry again so the plan is to keep up the running and get two, possibly three, spins on the bike.

click on the image to view on strava

friendship

friend [frend]

noun
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile:
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.

dictionary.com

When does someone become more than someone you know and become a friend? In today’s world do you have to know someone in real life to call them a friend?

I have a number of different groups of friends and a lot of them I haven’t met. I have a small number of very good friends that I have known for a long time and are very important in my life. I have friends that I know through work both past and present and from past times such as the cycling club and geocaching. Some of them I interact with in person and some online only now. Then I have “virtual friends“, people I only know from an online perspective and have never met. Some of these are from Facebook/WhatsApp groups that have similar interests to me and others I have interacted with through blogs.

Over the last few months I’ve been interacting with these virtual friends more than my real life friends as a result of the lockdown and restricted movement. It may sound strange to describe them as friends but through the blogs and posts I get to see inside their lives, to varying degrees, interact with some of them and share some of my own life. Some of them, like the None2Run Facebook group, provide support and motivation as I work through that program, very much like regular friends do.

my most important friends

I don’t know when someone becomes a friend but I do know that the last three months would have been much more difficult without them – all of them.

Header image by Pixabay from pexels.com

cycling in lockdown

For the last three weeks Ireland has been in pretty much complete lockdown and it’s going to last for at least another two. The majority of businesses and services are closed, unless they are deemed essential, all journeys are prohibited unless they are for a selected list of essential travel reasons and although exercise is permitted we must remain within 2km of our home.

2km seems excessively restrictive at first glance but, depending where you live, this gives decent scope for walking and running. I have two 6km walking routes that stay within the 2km radius and I’ve restarted the None2Run program last week so I’ve been able to get out pretty much every day and vary my exercise to make some attempt to keep it fresh.

the obligatory n2r selfie for the facebook group

I really do miss cycling though! Within the 2km radius I have a number of road options and I have been able to put together an 11km route that I have ridden for a 50km spin and modified for a 100km spin. I didn’t really enjoy them though. The roads are a bad mix of steep hills and rough surfaces and the constant repetition gets boring very quickly. I really do miss the 2-3 hour spins with constantly changing scenery and views that these loops simply don’t provide.

I’ve also dipped my toe in the virtual indoor training world of Zwift. I’ve borrowed a trainer from a friend and have had a couple of short plays as well as completing an FTP fitness test. That was horrible! I’ve done one before based on heart rate so knew what to expect but was curious to find out what my power based training zones were. As the borrowed trainer was a smart trainer it registers power and allowed me to put myself through this form of torture. At the end of the test my FTP was 178 which equates to 2.1w/kg which is definitely towards the lower end of performance. It was a disappointing but not entirely unexpected result based on my declining levels of cycling over the last couple of years. I’ve signed up for Zwift for a month so I’ll give it a few more goes before I make up my mind on how much I like/dislike it.

indoor cycling – outdoors!

I was going to give Zwift another go this morning but really wanted to feel the breeze and that I was out of the house. I didn’t fancy the previous loops as I didn’t want either the hills or the rough surface so I decided to try repeats of the better stretch of road between Crossroads village and Meenlougher which are the two furthest points of this road within the 2km circle and 3km apart. While far from ideal it gave me a short interval route with the breeze against me one way and with me the other. There are a couple of small climbs that can be made more challenging by over-gearing and the surface is OK. I figured that 50km would have led to a repeat of the boredom of my first lockdown route so I kept it to just over the hour and 32.5km in total.

click the image to view on strava

It was about as enjoyable as I could make it but more importantly the sun was shining, I was able to get out in short sleeves and shorts for the first time this year and I was riding my bike 😊

keep on running

I posted a couple of weeks ago about starting the None to Run program. Pleased to say I’m still at it and started Week 3 today.

Week 1 was fine but I had to do Week 2 twice as I only managed one run the first time before life intervened and knocked me off track. Restarted it last week and also felt able to add some extra time on R2 and 3 starting each of the 7 intervals 5sec early, adding on an extra 10sec and running 2min for the final interval.

I started W3 a day early today as I won’t be able to run during the week. It meant I was running for the 4th day in 7 and there are two additional intervals so I decided to stick with the plan. However, on the last interval I felt good and decided to run 2min once again 😊

This plan starts very easy and increases very slightly each week so it suits me really well. I had strong doubts I would make it this far and that I wasn’t built to run but so far so good. I haven’t been doing the strength training though which needs to change before the difficulty increases much further but I can already feel a significant change in the strength of my legs.

rosie finally learning how to pose for the camera

n2r w1r2

Week 1 Run 2

click the image to view on strava

After the excitement of R1 tonight was more of a reality check. R1 was a well rested Sunday morning while today was in the dark after 2 busy days at work averaging 10k steps each day and a row/cross trainer session in the gym yesterday evening.

I felt slow and awkward on the running intervals but in hindsight the trails in Monellan are too rough for comfort in the dark and wearing trainers. They’re great in hiking boots and walking the dog, even in the dark, but not for running. As my runs will be mostly in the evening and therefore in the dark I need to pick another location but I have one in mind.

I also felt very flat footed and heavy this evening which is why I previously gave up on C25K after the first couple of runs. I’m not sure if I’m being hyper sensitive to my gait, if it was the trail and the dark that was throwing me off or if my gait is that bad? Sitting on the sofa now there’s some tenderness in my shins but no pain. Running was the same.

After all that negativity I did enjoy it, especially the better sections of the trail and I did do three 40/45 second intervals. I was tempted to do an extra one or two but I managed to keep control of the enthusiasm to avoid injury and stuck with the plan.

Walked about 1km extra back to the start in about 10min but have decided to only record the actual N2R workouts so I can monitor progress properly.

none to run

I’ve been cycling for almost 7 years now and I’ve always enjoyed hiking and walking but I’ve never been a runner! Up to now this image has described me perfectly:

I’ve tried running a few times but it was always a case of too much, too soon due to lack of understanding how to start running. I’ve tried Couch25K a couple of times but gave up after a couple of runs due to lack of motivation. I also have a really bad running style that combined with a poor training strategy has resulted in a tendency towards shin splints.

I was researching C25K again last week and came across NoneToRun (N2R) which is for pure beginners. C25K is distance based with the ultimate aim of running 5km at the end of 9 weeks. N2R is time based with the aim of running 25min non-stop at the end of 12 weeks. It’s also walk/run based but incorporates some basic strength training to build endurance and avoid injury. It also has a very active and very supportive Facebook Group.

I had planned to cycle this morning but was suffering from a complete lack of motivation to get on the bike. Eventually I was that pissed off I decided to give N2R Week 1 a go 😱

To make things that bit easier I decided to go to Monellan Woods so I could run on the trails. I know Monellan well from walking the dog and MTBing and figured it would be less public and easier on the joints as well as a more enjoyable environment.

The first couple of run/walk intervals felt quite easy but I could feel the effects increasing towards the end. I did feel pretty comfortable throughout and could see the temptation to do more but stuck to the plan.

click the photo to see on strava

I ended up at 35min as my 25min finished and I was still 10min from the car but left the watch recording to the end.

I did have a few niggles with my shins but nothing bad so hopefully that doesn’t get any worse and with time my legs will get stronger and my gait and form will improve so that I avoid injury.

I had Rosie with me for company. She loves Monellan but her reaction to my running sections was so funny. Totally confused and over excited the first couple of times. Only issue was having to stop twice to put her on the lead when we met other walkers. If I go early or later in the evening then I won’t have that issue.

rosie doesn’t really get selfies 🀣