How to eat everything at christmas and not feel guilty

Christmas Day 10k with the girls

While most of the UK is curled up indoors, opening presents and eating pigs in blankets, I tried to buck the trend over the festive period and get a head start on those new years fitness goals.

This week: 4 Runs. 1 Swim. 1 Ride.

I have to say upfront that I suffered serious eating and drinking hangovers on a couple of the runs this week, but it’s all about getting out there regardless! And I have to say, I always feel better after a good run in the fresh air than if I’d just stayed in bed feeling sorry for myself.

Monday started with some interval training – that’s several short, fast sprints followed by a slow jog to catch your breath. Today the sprints were just 400m, followed by a 200m jog. The hills of Bridgnorth presented an added sting in the tail, but not nearly as much as the spicy madras and several beers from the night before that certainly presented a handicap!

I managed the first three sprints quite well, maybe because they were downhill, but then I started to suffer and had to cut short the fourth sprint because I was too knackered to keep running. I managed to compose myself again and finished the ten sprints.

400m SprintElevationPace (min/km)
1Downhill3:14
2Downhill3:11
3Downhill3:52
4Uphill4:35
5Uphill4:08
6Downhill3:24
7Downhill3:28
8Uphill4:55
9Uphill4:11
10Uphill4:02

Looking at the table above you can see that I probably need to work on running uphill a bit more in the future.

The next day was Christmas Day, which means it was time for a nice 10k loop of Bridgnorth with Emily and Helen. We followed the route of the Bridgnorth 10k which is held annually in October. It’s pretty hilly, as you can imagine, so it was pretty challenging… doubly so given that I started the run with quite possibly the biggest hangover of 2018. Then again, nothing cures a hangover like a good run, right?

High spirits (quite literally, we were probably still drunk) before the Christmas day 10k around hilly Bridgnorth in the Severn valley

About half way through the run was the bit we’d all been dreading – the 100m long innocuously-sounding Railway Street with a 16% gradient! I decided to sprint up it, naturally…

The Railway Street Rumble – a 100m, 16% incline of doom (picture by Helen James)
That brought the hangover right back! (video by Helen James)

By the end of the run we were all ready for a glass of bubbly and the onslaught of Christmas dinner that had been wonderfully prepared for us by Emily’s mother. This is the second year we’ve done a run on Christmas day, I hope it’s a tradition that continues… although maybe not quite as far next year!

On Boxing day we went for a foggy walk up the Brown Clee, the highest hill in Shropshire, with Emily’s mum providing supplies of mince pies and damson gin.

The motley crew atop the Brown Clee (minus my mug as I’m taking the photo)

The following day I went for round two at the Bridgnorth Leisure Swimming Pool, this time much busier than last Sunday, but I still managed 1250m.

Friday we we’re back in West London, so I finally got a run in on flat ground! I ran 10km, with the middle 5km at threshold heart rate (AKA flat out). The threshold section was tough and I certainly felt the effects of all that festive eating and drinking. Hopefully that’ll go in a week or two of good training.

Saturday was an exciting day, my workmate Andy came down and we did a long cycle ride together to Windsor and back again. It was a really varied route, taking in gravel paths, muddy fields and towpaths as well as the road.

We didn’t get off to the best start as I got a big puncture within the first kilometre, but luckily Andy had come prepared with a spare inner tube and replaced the offending article in no time like a real pro.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of our bad luck, as Andy’s chain snapped around 20km in. Thankfully we weren’t far from a bike shop where we managed to get a replacement. Once again, Andy impressed by having all the tools to hand to replace the chain in a jiffy. I learnt a thing of two watching him and have a few items on the Christmas list for next year already!

Apart from all that excitement, the ride itself was lovely. 63km in total and taking six hours, two of which weren’t even spent moving!

The Lycra louts make it to Slough in one piece

When we returned just before sunset Emily had prepared a wonderful vegan Tagine.

There is nothing better on this earth than eating after a long day in the saddle

Sunday rounded off the week with a 15km long run along a route I’ve wanted to try ever since I realised that the River Brent was a great running destination that I hadn’t tried yet. I planned a route that started with going north on the canal, then heading east through Greenford to meet the River Brent, following the river south to meet the canal at Hanwell, then following the canal back west then north to the start.

A lovely route following two waterways of West London
A great way to end the week of festivities for 2018

I’m glad I got this route in before the end of the year, and at a 4:37/km pace I could enjoy a large fry-up for brunch with a clean conscience.

Next week I try to finish 2018 strong, see you then, bye x