An Autumn Run

I finally got round to doing my second Park Run this morning and this time it was my local run at Erddig. 

Walking round to the start in front of Erddig Hall to join the large group of runners (with some four-legged friends in the mix too), there was a distinct difference to the Hall since I visited last. With the vibrant red ivy now almost completely gone, those eye-catching leaves now strewn on the floor. Winter is most certainly round the corner.

Yet weather-wise it didn’t feel like October at all. Come 9am the rustle of dry leaves signalled we were now on our way to complete the 5km route. 

As 200+ runners made their way into the woods with a blanket of orange leaves on the floor, for this early on a Saturday morning there was a really positive atmosphere which made it all the more enjoyable.

I didn’t push myself too hard for this Park Run. It was more of a social affair, appreciating the location and getting a grasp of the course. Rather than laps it was more of a collection of loops that crossed over a few times. Open fields, cows who must have thought we were mad so went back to munching on their grass and dense woodland. It was honestly a rather pleasant run! Although I did feel a bit guilty for almost not noticing Ryan on my way round who was out on a ride…oops!

After a difficult week recovering from a bad session in the gym, I’m a bit more positive about next week’s training. 

Running On Empty

Waking up with a head cold I very nearly ended up curled up on the sofa to spend my Sunday watching films. After taking a rather long time to drag myself out of bed, Ryan and I were soon heading to the Welsh hills for an off road ride.

Ryan on a cyclocross bike and me on my hardtail. He’s bonkers…I know.

Following a natural loop I’ve done a few times before now, there was a lot more climbing than I remember. Long country lanes, a mossy ford and plenty of singletrack later the Welsh hills soon got the better of me.

With probably enough tools between us to fix most mechanicals, it was the engine that was the problem. Lack of food and cold winds…the engine was slowly giving up!

Getting back to the cafe at Llandegla it wasn’t a case of wanting food, but needing food. Sharing chilli chips (they ran out of Nacho’s) and a Burger between us, the food didn’t last very long at all. 

So despite feeling a bit rough this morning, we ended up having a great day out. 

Spinning As A Cyclist

Yesterday I took the jump and joined a gym. With long days in college I found myself coming home and either not doing much or hours of college work. And you might have already guessed it, not much exercise. My productivity drops to nil and a positive mindset goes out the window.

With the dark nights now upon us I’d feel hesitant to go out for a run by myself. My Labrador is only up for a run every now and then…ha! So now I’ve got somewhere to train I’m planning a productive off-season to prepare for whatever I decide to do next Summer. And sort my weak arms out….

Pre & Post Spin…my legs were so tight! Stretching was a must.

With multiple classes at the gym the first one I decided to do was Spinning. I suppose it’s been around for a while now but it’s only now I’m giving it a try. 

Being a cyclist I thought it would be almost second nature, but it just felt rather odd! 

First was the fact I managed to find the most minuscule thing wrong with the exercise bikes. Dodgy ‘bottom bracket’ or axles on the pedals. And it felt like I was the only person who noticed…

Once the class started to pick up I was having a bit of a mare with the resistance on the exercise bike. It either felt too easy or too hard; mainly when we were up out of the saddle. And I’ll avoid the subject of when the instructor wanted me to move my upper body to counts of four. The struggles with the resistance, meant I could not coordinate my legs to upper body whatsoever!

Closer to the end of the 45 minutes, with sweaty palms struggling to alter the resistance, I seemed to slowly figure it all out. Not pushing my hips back must have been what I was doing wrong.

Thankfully I figured all this out before the 3 minute sprint in amongst it all…which hurt…a lot!

If you’re a cyclist and have tried or do Spinning I’d love to hear your experiences of it! Comment on here or my social media accounts. 


Rather than having a lazy Sunday, I was up before 9 and off to a Speedo Dive In event at my local Total Fitness gym. The whole idea behind the Dive In events is to help people progress their front crawl, and after the advert popped up in my newsfeed a few weeks ago, it sounded almost too good to be true. It’s not often free swimming lessons come about is it? Especially with double Olympic Silver medalist, Jazz Carlin.

Olympic Swimmer, Jazz Carlin #GetSpeedoFit

I’m not a very confident swimmer and never have been, my recent attempt at open water swimming is enough to demonstrate that! However, with having ‘compete in a triathlon’ on my bucket list…it’s something that needs to change. 

After being introduced to the #GetSpeedoFit team we split into groups from beginner through to advanced. Only just being able to manage one length…I was best suited in the beginner group. With two coaches, the front crawl was broken down step by step. First it was the legs, then breathing, arms and then a case of putting it all together.

One thing I found particularly useful was the use of training aids to help improve your swimming. It meant I could just concentrate on one part of my stroke rather than trying to figure it out all at once! I’ve always struggled with my breathing in swimming, but when it came down it there were a few things wrong with my stroke that made the breathing difficult. 

So rather than blabber on, what did I actually learn?

– Kick from the hips.

– Always keep one ear in the water when breathing.

– Breath just as you take your hand out of the water.

– Don’t get lazy at the back of the stroke, push with your hand right up to the point it leaves the water.

– ‘Traintrack’ arms…rather than putting your hand in the water just in front of your head (like me!).

– Make your stroke as long as possible.

And…I need training aids for when I go swimming!

If you’ve got a Speedo Dive In session coming up soon near you, I would definitely recommend going. From advanced swimmer to someone looking for a rewarding sport to keep them fit, there’s plenty to learn for everyone regardless of ability. I came out of the session with a lot more confidence in my swimming than when I went in.

With plenty more motivation to get back in the pool, competing in a triathlon might not be as unattainable as I first thought.

More time to spare? Why not head over to my post about Open-Water Swimming in Dolgellau this Summer….Exploring Dolgellau:Hike & Swim

Oulton Park Duathlon

When your first mile is a PB you start to wonder how the race is going to pan out. With a 7.31 for the first mile of the run I took the wise move of slowing my pace a little, and by the time I’d completed the 1 lap run I was glad I did. Approaching the transition area I was unsure of whether I’d be able to get on my bike at all. My lungs were running at max effort!

Lock Laces were a solid investment! No more uncomfortable running shoes.

With a stress-free transition it was time to do 5 laps on the bike. Despite Time-Trials being his discipline, Ryan had said it was common to put tape on your top tube to help keep track of how many laps you’ve done, so I opted to go for that tactic rather than trying to keep track myself.

I’ve not actually done much cycling straight after a run so the first lap was to ease my legs into it, although the cycling gave me a much needed recovery period as that’s what my body is more use to doing. I could also refill my body with the fluids to try and get rid of cramp near my ribs (it worked for me anyway!).

I may have put my leggings on inside-out….apart from the tag you couldn’t really tell though…

Oulton Park is a lot more hilly than I was expecting. With a gradual decline to Shell Oils Corner there were a fair few climbs to get back to the Start/Finish, whilst trying to make sure it didn’t look like I was ‘drafting’ at all…it took out a lot more of me than I thought it would. However, to later find out I was averaging 18mph I’m not really surprised….

The closer I got to finishing my 5 laps the quieter the bike side of the track got so I found I could go a little bit faster. With competitors already on the last run I made my way into transition to put my running shoes back on…and my legs felt numb! It was a very odd feeling and I just needed to ease myself to the finish. However, looking at my watch and deciding I could potentially get a sub-hour and a half time I soon had other ideas. With the plan of action being to get the biggest climb out of the way and then up my pace to the finish I had work to do.

Crossing the line I was unsure if I’d managed it or not but I think I was just glad to make it to the finish. Handing back in my timing chip, grabbing a finish bag and any food I could find I just needed somewhere to sit and re-hydrate. Probably not making much sense whilst trying to talk to Ryan, I was so glad he was there. Partly because I’d probably still be wandering round Oulton Park after heading in the completely wrong direction to get my bike from transition….

Thanks to my Dad & Ryan for the photos and for Ryan letting me borrow his go-faster wheels! Xtra Mile Events held a great and well-organised event…I can’t wait for the next one.