South Leeds Lakers’ Advent Calendar Challenge

One of the members of South Leeds Lakers kindly planned an advent calendar based challenge. He is also the person you all have to thank for being subjected to my ramblings. Thanks Steve for creating the challenge and helping me with the blog, I’m sure Santa knows that you’ve been a good boy.


The challenge is in the form of an advent calendar (obviously) and there is a different one every day. It is set up so that you can only view the challenge on the day, we were given a few clues though. Tuesday is Lakers day, Saturday is parkrun day and Wednesday is rest. I’m not very good at keeping up to these things but I’m going to give it a try, I will have to make some adjustments to allow for work and to incorporate swimming, cycling and strength training.

Advent Calendar

Day 1

Fartlek does not have anything to do with sprouts despite the name, it is a way of running at different speeds. I run all my races at the same plodding speed so adjusted the plan to suit. I ran the warm up with some walking to avoid ice then I ran the “race pace” at my normal pace and walked the “jog” parts.

It was hard to get going and I mentally argued with myself for a good while before getting out of the door, I couldn’t find my I-pod and when I did it was flat. My legs were hurting after my assessment and creating a plan at the gym the day before.

I made it out of the door and set off at a gentle warm up pace, my thighs were screaming but now I was out I wasn’t going back. It was pretty freezing but I was wrapped up and know from experience that I would soon warm up.

There was a lot of black ice around and I nearly hit the deck a couple of times causing more complaining from my wimpy thighs, shut up thighs, I’m not listening. I planned my route as flat as possible and on main roads but there were still quite a few icy patches. It was cold and it was hard but I made it. The route was slightly long for the plan so I did a cool down walk at the end.

I got home and headed straight for a hot bath, then I remembered – stretches ! So like a good athlete I did my stretches, naked, on the landing. Fortunately for any neighbours the blinds were closed.

Bathroom selfie

Day 2

Day 2 is parkrun, tourism encouraged. As you probably already know, I love parkrun and I love touring so this is a dream for me. Apart from the curse that is work ! Well I do have to pay for all these holidays and running gear somehow. So day 2 was my own take on it. I did 5k, the distance of parkrun. I ran in Cross Flatts park, the home of my home parkrun. I wore my apricot parkrun T shirt. As close as I’m going to get on a work day. As instructed it was sort of new, I have run on all of the paths before but never in that order.

I finished work at 2 and as usual faffed about for ages with massively important jobs like sorting pens into colour order and paper into size order. I’m not suffering from OCD, just a bad case of procrastination. Eventually, I managed to get a grip and leave the house encased in lycra. Multiple layers of lycra, and my skydiving buff. Oh, don’t forget your watch. And your I-pod. Where can I put my key ? Now you see why it takes me so long to leave the house.

So I left the house and set off up the street and along to the crossing, all of about 2 minutes worth of running. Phew, I can stop while I wait for the lights to change. And wait. And wait. I gave up and crossed while the little man was still red, sorry Mum !

Up the road I plodded, I was dying. Really, I was. But I made it to the top and was forced to wait at a crossing again. What a shame !

I ran past the local brothel and car wash and saw an opportunity for a skive while cars left the car wash. HA ! Nope, the second car was only driven by Yaz. A lovely runner who goes to Lakers and takes great pleasure in kicking my arse around on a Tuesday night. I checked my posture and running style as I ran past grinning and waving like a loon, after all I don’t want an arse kicking for bad running form.

The rest of the run was pretty uneventful although I did get a lot of friendly smiles from fellow park users. I don’t know if this is normal, I don’t usually go into it by myself. I was a little worried when 2 men started staring a smiling at me but it was totally unfounded, they were actually waiting for the people walking behind me.

So I got back to the bottom of the park at 2 miles and had a bit of a debate with myself about the route home. I opted to go back the way I had come but when I got to the crossing I was half a mile short, I must have changed my mind 20 times in about 10 seconds. Home and cut the run short or loop round. If I loop, which way do I go ? Left or right ? Massive life changing decision. I looped left. I checked my watch numerous times to make sure I got the distance. I was a little bit over.

My thighs were still hurting from Thursday, I could hardly walk this morning but the run seemed to have loosened them up a bit. Not for long though, tomorrow is gym and swim regardless of the advent calendar.

Kitchen selfie.

Day 3

So today was a trail challenge but silly work got in the way again. I finished at 3pm and considering the reminder that it gets dark early I would have had to do a very short run, I adapted it to suit. I didn’t get muddy but I did get wet, that counts, right ?

On my way home from work I popped into the gym to embark on my new strength plan. Warm up on the rowing machine then 5 different exercises working on pretty much all the major muscle groups and cool down on the bike. Considering the amount of pain I have had since the assessment session I was not looking forward to it one little bit. It was easier than I expected, not easy but not as bad as I thought. Maybe the first lot has started working already.

Sunday is swimming lesson day, that’s where the wet bit came in. I’m OK with breast stroke now and confident enough to go independently but crawl is another matter. For the past few weeks I’ve been using a float and practising my legs, today I had most of the pool and an instructor to myself. I can now move pretty swiftly through the water with just my legs. I can get most of the way across the pool with my face in the water and I can take a breath whilst doing an arm stroke. Massive progress, I’m very pleased with my little self.

No selfie for this one, the world  does not need to see me in a swimming costume. Here’s my tea instead, I was starving !

Day 4

Rest day, yay !

I rested from exercise not from life, I still had to go to work.

Day 5

Tuesday is Lakers day. This Tuesday was the Santa Dash day. 25 minutes to get as far as possible towards Tingley roundabout then back. This was to be completed wearing a Santa Hat.

The couch to 5 k group did a slightly adjusted route and I brought up the rear, my favourite place. I was accompanied by Claire, hopefully I didn’t hold her back too much. At one point we were overtaken by a man walking, he did point out that he had (much) longer legs than ours.

It started out flat with a nice, steady downhill. We soon lost the bulk of the group but managed to keep them in sight, we weren’t in much danger of getting lost. We pottered up the hill back towards Beeston and that’s where we encountered the long legged man.

2.2 miles in 34 minutes is not too bad. Better than sitting at home getting fat.

Car selfie

Day 6

Rest ? OK.

Eat ? If you say so.

Ho ho ho.

Day 7

I worked a 12 hour shift on day 7, I still did the workout though. It was after midnight so technically is was on day 8 but we won’t worry about that minor detail.

The 7 minutes consisted of 7 different exercises for 45 seconds each followed by 15 seconds rest. The planks (side and standard) were a miserable failure but I managed the others.

Day 8

This didn’t happen, I went to the pub and a gig instead. Oops.

Day 9

I did parkrun, with a hangover (see above). I was in Bridlington so I went to Sewerby for the second time, the first time was in June 2016 and I completed it in 44:49. This time I finished in 44:16 I’m happy with that.

Sewerby parkrun starts in front of a stately home on a clifftop near Bridlington. We started in front of the house and ran towards the sea on a footpath.The first section is out and back along the cliff, it was lovely to be able to see and hear the sea.

The next bit is run on grass, again out and back. It was very cold and the floor was solid and a bit uneven so I took it steady bearing in mind my past record on uneven ground.

After the grass we headed back onto the path up to the house, I was in the company of the tail walker at this point and we had a nice chat about other parkruns. The path goes through the formal gardens but in December there’s not much to see.

The last bit is through woods so I was very careful. I caught up with 2 young girls who were having a little walk, they passed me near the finish line meaning that I was last. I’m very pleased with that run, it’s a very varied and quite difficult course but I ran it all apart from the steps and a short patch of uneven ground.

Sewerby is home to the lovely lady that helped me at Dalby Forest after I fell so it was lovely to see her again and last time I was there I ran with a lady who I am now Facebooks friends with and I got to see her again.

Kelly, my Dalby Forest Angel.

Parkrun really is a friendly community, I have a lot of new friends from parkruns all over the world.

Day 10

Sunday is swimming day and knowing that I will not be able to attend the next 3 sessions I didn’t want to miss out, so swimming counted as my session. Yes, I am making it up as I go along and changing things to suit.

Day 11

Gym day on my way home from work. I had the bright idea that I should increase my lunge weights, not funny, I couldn’t walk for days afterwards. And I forgot the Christmas Tree selfie.

Day 12

Yay! Tuesday is running club day.

I was allocated the 5k route to the White Rose Centre. We were a very exclusive group, one had to drop out due to a wardrobe malfunction. I ran along with Clare, we were both very pleased with our pace and we ran most of the way.

Of course we had to stop and take a selfie to prove that we had reached our goal.

Dewsbury Road is not a pleasant run going uphill but it was made much more pleasant by being able to have a natter. The weather was not our friend either. Driving winds in our faces and icy rain, not much fun.

Proof that we made it to our destination.


And that is the end of my efforts to complete the advent calendar challenge. I was struck down with a severe case of Girl Flu*. It is Christmas Eve Eve and I’m still coughing at the slightest change in air temperature so I’m guessing that Christmas Day parkrun will be delayed again, I will run on Christmas Day eventually.

*Like man flu but you drag yourself through life and don’t winge about every single symptom.

Merry Christmas Everyone.








Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.