Things have been a little quiet around here lately, haven’t they? Given that it is nearly the end of March and I’ve posted only four times in 2016, it’s clear to see that things are unfolding a little differently for me this year. The early months of the past few years have been crammed full of miles, hills, and mountains, with my eyes firmly set upon a goal later in the year.
This year, with a great deal of instability in my employment and financial situation, things have gone a little bit differently. If you don’t have a lot of money spare you can’t enter lots of races, especially if your kind of races usually involve a tank of petrol and a night or two in a remote hotel. Also, if you’re looking to move to a different area, then what’s the point in spending precious money on races which, if your life sorts itself out, you won’t be able to attend anyway? It’s a bit of a vicious circle situation to find yourself in and with no long races to train for, prying myself out of bed at 6am in winter to run 20-odd miles for the sake of it fell pretty far down my list of priorities. I am still running; just not very far and with no great sense of urgency. That hasn’t left me with very much to write about here, I’m afraid 🙁
But what about the Self-Transcendence 50k?
I started the year training for the Self-Transcendence 50k which is taking place in Perth at the end of March. It seemed like a good choice in terms of timing and as a flat, lapped race, I could try my best to record a fast 50k time. What I failed to get a proper grip on though, was the actual day of the race… I had it in my head that it was taking place on a Saturday like all the other Scottish Ultras, when in fact it is a Sunday – the day before I fly to Tokyo. After seeking some medical advice I was conflicted; medically it is not a great idea to complete an endurance event 12 hours before a long-haul flight, but it’s not going to kill me either. There is a medical risk involved, but in all honesty there is more of a risk of me chewing up my feet with blisters and acquiring some nasty DOMS from running on tarmac, which would ruin the first few days of our much-anticipated trip to Japan. I thought about doing the race and taking it easy, but I’m done with the concept of doing races just for the sake of them (especially whilst under-trained) and my health and injury-free status is more precious to me than a medal. So unfortunately, I’m a DNS.
So what is this secret then?
It’s not very exciting I’m afraid, but in the absence of beautiful pictures from mountain runs to share with you, it will have to do. I’ve joined a gym – Pure Gym Kittybrewster to be exact – and since the new facility opened at the start of February I’ve been enjoying attending several times a week and working hard on different aspects of my fitness. The new gym launched with an amazingly cheap offer which caught my broke, freelancer eyes – £10.99 a month for your first 12 months, rising to £18.99 thereafter. I scoured the small-print for the catch, but everything is completely legit and follows the no-frills, no-strings attached, no contract, 24 hour memberships which the Pure Gym chain are renowned for offering at their gyms around the UK. I can show up whenever for a workout, and as someone with a very flexible work-from-home arrangement this means I can go during the day when it is very quiet. It’s a bit of a drive from my house, but it’s still more cost efficient than attending several classes a week nearer home and it gets me out of the house and off the computer which is priceless.
I’ve been enjoying attending spinning, kettle bells, HIIT, and abs classes, and they are frequently timetabled in a way which means I can sandwich a weights workout in between two 30 minute classes. As the gym is completely brand new, all of the equipment is in great condition and the facilities are clean. What has really struck me is the diversity of clientele; I’ve been a member of many gyms in the past in various cities in the UK, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a broad range of age, abilities, and ethnic backgrounds before. There is very little posturing around the weights area and people are just in there to get on with their own workouts – a refreshing change from Aberdeen Sports Village where, as a female entering the free weights area which was primarily populated with male students, I felt like I was either in the way or some kind of exotic half-time entertainment.
In conclusion, I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying being a member of a gym again. The staff are all brilliant and it pleases me how much attention is given to correct form in classes, especially weights-based exercises. When the exercise studio is not in use, members are permitted to go in and use the space for their own dynamic workouts, such as setting up a little circuit to do, or lighter barbell workouts away from the main gym floor. Another reason why I joined PureGym is because you can quit at any time with no questions asked, but I will definitely be sticking around as long as I’m in the area. At £10.99 a month for such a great quality service, you really can’t go wrong!
Since my entry for the Self-Transendence race will be a DNS, that leaves the first race of my year to be the Miyajima Marathon! As part of our adventure around Japan, Kynon and I have secured entries to the 15km race on April 3rd which goes around the beautiful Miyajima Island just outside of Hiroshima. We leave for Japan next Monday and will spend two weeks in the land of the rising sun, visiting Tokyo, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Kamakura. It’s going to be quite the adventure of a lifetime and I promise I will share lots of information and pictures on my return. Can’t wait til then? Make sure you’re following me on Instagram!