Climbing, running and eating

The weekend seems a long time away now, doesn’t it? There’s some crazy inverses time law I think whereby time moves quickly at the weekend and slowly during the week. Saying that though I don’t actually mind weekdays. I always think it would be awful to hate five days out of seven. Or maybe my weekends aren’t that interesting in comparison?? Who knows!

I made my way to the Netley parkrun on Saturday morning. It felt like forever since I was last there. It was nice to see the set-up crew again, albeit missing a few people due to holidays and injuries. The weather was really nice and made me think of those horrific times during the winter months where I was bundled up in a thick coat and dreading the time when I’d have to de-layer.


Recently I was asked to take over the Twitter account for Netley parkrun and I happily took the job. I’m a big fan of Twitter (follow me if you like!) and the person who was doing it before was getting a bit tired of looking after it and said I seemed like the right person for the job Smile It’s fun because I can tweet out motivational messages, information about Netley and parkrun in general. But I did have a moment where I got confused with the accounts and retweeted a humorous tweet from what I thought was my account but turned out to be Netley’s. It wasn’t offensive or rude but it was a bit random (a funny meme about football) so I quickly deleted it. It is tough though managing the two accounts post-parkrun when there is a lot of Twitter activity happening!

Anyway, my hamstring was feeling better than has it done but still not right. I did a warm-up and then stood umm’ing and arr’ing about whether to run. In the end my friend Chris said to try a slow lap and if it got worse stop. So this is what I did.





My hamstring did niggle but it didn’t get worse. It was just a discomfort in the back of my mind. I kept it slow. Jeeze how tough three miles feels when you haven’t been running much! It felt like it went on forever. I’ve lost a lot of endurance for definite. Afterwards the hamstring felt niggly but not significantly worse and actually the hours and days afterwards it felt no worse. *Shrugs*. I’ll write some more about that in another post anyway as I saw my physio on Monday.

I was happy to have run parkrun though and it was nice to be in the sunshine with lovely people.


Later that day I had a climbing induction booked at Romsey. As I drove there the weather took a turn for the worse (ridiculously worse) and pelted it down with rain. When I arrived the people looked a bit confused and said I’d booked on the supervised auto-belay climbing wall. They said it wasn’t an issue but really I didn’t need to be supervised. I thought I was going to be taught about climbing! But apparently not. The website wasn’t entirely clear…Though, let’s be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve booked something wrong.

An auto-belay is really very simple and the supervised sessions are more for kids so after the instructor showed me what to do I was fine to do my thing on my own, switching between the different belays to try different problems.


It was basically like bouldering but higher and with the comfort of having a safety net (or a safety rope as it were). The auto-belay would ‘catch’ you if you fell backwards then lower you quickly to the floor in a controlled way. It gave me confidence to try reaches I wouldn’t have done during bouldering which was great!


You could climb down or throw yourself backwards and let the auto-belay catch you as it tightened up under your weight. But it feels loose when you initially let go of the wall so it feels like you’re going to fall as you don’t feel any of its support until you put your weight into it. Honestly it took me a good few minutes to get over the fear and allow myself to fall. It’s genuinely terrifying the first time. I had to do it from a very low height just to convince myself I’d be OK. Afterwards though I was fine, though in the end I actually preferred climbing down as this provided more opportunities to improve my ability (and grip!).

IMG_2490‘Falling’ using the auto-belay

I had a lot of fun though I was disappointed not to learn a bit more about climbing, like tying certain knots, attaching the harness and belays. But I’ll definitely be planning some proper lessons soon.


And because I’m so thoroughly addicted (and running is not enjoyable right now) I got up Sunday and headed for some more bouldering at Red Spider. It opened at 10am and I was in pretty sharpish to get as long as I could there before going to a BBQ with my friends later on.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself and managed to conqueror some of the problems I was unable to complete the last time. It felt hugely satisfying. I like that there’s a ranking of the problems as well (V0, V1, V2…V6 etc.) and I’ve found I can do up to V2s without issue and V3s are hit and miss depending how much over-hang there is. When it’s like a cliff jutting out and you have to get from below it to over it I really struggle as it pushes my body out and I’m terrified I’m going to fall (see below my pathetic little stick-man drawing).


But anyway, it was fun. I wish I could have stayed so much longer but I had to quickly head home, shower and head to see my friends. And also, my arms and hands don’t quite have the strength and endurance yet for mammoth bouldering sessions – especially having done a session the day before!

For the BBQ, my friends and I were a bit worried about the weather (given how bad it had been the afternoon before) but it held out thankfully. It was a weird day of lovely sunshine and then overcast chilliness.


I basically just brought chicken with me (two types of skewers and drumsticks). It was a lovely afternoon just chilling. Though we did have a collective moan about the EU result…How adult we all are now, discussing politics and how it affects our lives. I think we can all agree though that there are uncertain times ahead. A nice weekend though nonetheless!

Do you discuss politics with your friends?

If you have an niggle do you prefer not to run at all, or try a gentle run and stop if necessary?

Are you afraid of heights? I used to be, but I don’t seem that bothered anymore. I remember a time when I went on a school trip rock climbing I cried at the top of the climbing wall refusing to abseil down because I was so scared. I had to be lowered down! Pathetic child that I was.

Bouldering (Birthday weekend–part 2)

Having the birthday that I have (19th June) means it often falls on or is around Father’s Day. I was actually born on Father’s Day and my dad always says it was the nicest present to have gotten (ha, take that Big Sis Winking smile).

Since I did most of my celebrating the day before and my dad and me had done a dual celebration a few weeks ago (Nando’s and cinema – two of our loves), we hadn’t planned anything concrete for the actual Sunday. My dad and me had a nice walk down the beach with the dogs while we waited for my mum to finish at church (my dad and me aren’t religious). Then, with my mum, we went for a little mosey round the shops and they treated to me to a Starbucks. They also got me a brand new travel coffee cup as well as I broke my last one (I’m notoriously clumsy and dropped it).


It’s cool that Starbucks sell smoothie drinks now with ACTUAL fruit in them. You just take a plastic cup of the fruit to the till and they blend it up.


My dad had one of those while I had my usual Americano. My parents each had a slice of cake but I resisted the temptation, which actually wasn’t that hard as I was still recovering from the mammoth meal the day before…

Then I went on my merry little way to my bouldering induction. After my booking fail of last weekend I was really keen to make this one! Though not actual rock climbing (with harnesses) it was the next best thing I could do within a short notice (I’ve got rock climbing this weekend).


It was based at a place called Red Spider in Fareham. I paid £15 for a one-on-one introduction to bouldering session (lasting an hour). The instructor who took it, a lovely guy named Chris, was really good. Very friendly and thorough, especially with safety which is obvious paramount as you don’t have a harness and you are climbing fairly high!


Yes there is a cushioned mat underneath the wall but that minimises the impact rather than acts as a safety net. You’ll still get injured or cause yourself damage by falling or dropping incorrectly from the wall.

IMG_2302Special climbing shoes

Anyway he got me to warm up by following him through the kid’s climbing area which was highly amusing. We were going up and down these twisty passages (which were actually quite narrow!) and then up slides and things like that. Seemed random but I understood the logic – bouldering uses pretty much your entire body and scampering up and down the kid’s play area was working all our muscles dynamically but safely. Then we started on a wall that was standing height so I could get used to the grips and foot placing. I seemed to do alright and he said my technique and strength was good so we moved quickly on.

IMG_2307After the session on my own

The climbing wall has lots of different ‘problems’ (routes to climb the wall) and each problem is categorised between V0-V5, V5 being the hardest and they’re indicated by colours. You then follow (or attempt to follow) the colour of the holds (the things you grab onto and/or put your feet onto). You can only use the colour holds that are for that problem. So obviously we started on the V0s to get used to climbing up and down. I found this quite easy (not to beat my own drum!) and we moved on to harder ones.


It obviously helps that I have a fitness background – being a runner means I have strong legs and a high endurance for effort and all my gym work has improved my strength, especially in my arms and core. I also like to think that since my grandad was a proficient climber (he’s written two books about it and is in Wikipedia!) that something may have trickled down into my genes Winking smile

I still found it tough though and on the tricky ones he would explain or demonstrate how to do certain routes, which gave me a range of skills that I could learn and work on. Though obviously I know rock climbing and bouldering has a lot of skill involved, it was fascinating to realise it was a lot more than just having a strong grip and strong arms! There was so much core strength and mental ability required to work out the best way to navigate up. Using your hips as a centre of gravity and twisting your body to get the right balance to get to the next grip. A lot of balance and stability was required.


Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I got a super pump from it and I was buzzing. It was amazing how quickly it became a tough workout as well when you went from the easy problems to the harder ones. And the genuine fear of falling was always there. After we finished the session I carried on by myself for about half an hour doing the ones we’d gone through.


What I also loved about it was how social it was. There were lots of other people there climbing and everyone was so nice. When I got stuck trying to get past a problem, someone was always there to help me out and explain the best way to do it.

I left buzzing and wanting to go back as soon as possible. I’m going to try rock climbing as well but bouldering seems a bit more accessible as I don’t need to worry about having someone to help with a belay. But I’ll see what the rock climbing is like. This is something I really hope to continue. Don’t get me wrong, I obviously still love running but for my sanity I need something else I can enjoy when I can’t run. I like going to the gym but it’s not exactly something you can go and do for fun per se. Bouldering is definitely something I can go off and do on my own and enjoy myself on afternoon.

Have you ever done rock climbing or bouldering before?

What are your hobbies?

What’s your favourite coffee shop? I know it’s so commercial, but I do love Starbucks.