A new rhythm

I’m now six weeks into my new job, and my new commute; a lovely settled rhythm is starting to make itself felt.

I have run once, tubed a few times, and mostly cycled. The commute has become one of the highlights of my day.
Working in theatres suits me, and I am finding the job fascinating. As ever, there is so much to learn – which for me is a good thing, and makes my job more enjoyable. All those weird anaesthetic drugs!

However, there’s also been a lovely boost to my confidence as I no longer feel like a newly qualified nurse, but instead someone with valuable critical care experience, and knowledge, who can add something to the team.

Now that my new work rhythm is feeling familiar and settled, it’s time to turn my attention back to what I get up to in between the shifts. Books and sewing first I think.



A golden Spring walk

It is Spring, and fresh things are blossoming and beginning.

Fittingly, I start a new job at the end of this month, and I am beginning to think about how I will commute there. For the last fifteen months, I've had an incredibly easy journey to work – I'm based in a hospital that's just a ten minute walk from home. The new job is a little further away, but still a short commute by London standards. I could catch the tube (just four stops – and thirty minutes door-to-door), or I could cycle (I think about thirty minutes too), or I could run!

Running to work wouldn't be as hardcore as it sounds. I would start by running home, just once a week, and then slowly (over six months or more) build up to the point where I could run either in or back, two or maybe three times a week, and cycle and tube the rest of the time. My shifts are going to be shorter than the ones I do in my current job (10 hours rather than 13), and they start and finish at varied times (I will do a mixture of earlies, middles and lates) – so to some extent how I commute will be dictated by what shift I am working (I would happily run home after an early but not after a late, for example).

Google maps told me that the run would be between 8km and 9km, which is well within my capabilities, so today I set out to figure out precisely what my route would be – right down to which side of the road would be best to run on, and where to cross major junctions. I caught the tube to my new hospital, and then turned around and set out to walk back home.

Appropriately for a spring walk, I discovered when I stopped for lunch that I'd inadvertently been taking photographs of all things yellow. Flowers, street art, an ice cream van…I think maybe at this time of year, the fresh, clean yellow of the ubiquitous daffodils wakes me up and energises me, so that my eye is drawn to other objects of the same colour.

And when my food arrived, I laughed out loud, because it seemed I was still drawn to golden yellow shades. This is at the wonderful Crate Brewery in Hackney Wick, right next to the Olympic Park, where they serve the best pizzas I have EVER eaten. This was a sweet potato, Stilton and walnut pizza, which I washed down with a pint of their best cider.

As I walked out of the far side of the Olympic Park, and arrived back in Leyton I knew exactly which road I would have to take back home: the one that takes me past 'the yellow house'…

…where, amazingly there was a woman walking past in a yellow coat as I stopped to take a photo.

How do you commute to work? Would you ever consider running as part of your commute? Do you have a choice of how you can commute? I'd love to know.


Cross Country

Yesterday I finished my third nightshift at 7:45, and was in the forest, running through puddles, at 8 o'clock. By 9:30 I was home, breakfasted, showered and in bed, deeply asleep. I'm trying a new thing: cross country running.

I loved all the road races I did with my running club, Eton Manor AC, during the summer season, and when I saw that the winter fixture list was largely cross country races I knew I wanted to join in. It's less than a month until my first race and until yesterday I had never run off-road. I'd bought some trail shoes in the late summer sale and was just waiting for the ground to be damp enough to use them.


Yesterday was perfect. It had rained all night and the forest was soaked. I was exhausted and just wanted some fresh air and exercise to clear my head. I ran only for 4km, but it was so much fun. Running through puddles rather than avoiding them, ducking as I ran amongst the trees, feeling the mud and rain splashing around my ankles – I hadn't expected cross country running to be so different from road running, but it is. I have to concentrate more on how I am running, and where I am placing my feet, and at the same time there's more beautiful scenery to distract me.

My new shoes were a delight, and have dried out well, stuffed with newspaper and left in a warm place. I just need to buy the occasional Sunday newspaper now – the freebie Council paper that we get every couple of weeks is not big enough to cope with the amount of cross country running I shall be doing this winter.


Fitting in the running

Of all the different things I do on a day off, running is one of the most challenging things to fit in. Running doesn't take very long in itself – I'll usually run for between half an hour and an hour – but the tiredness it inflicts on me afterwards can wipe me out for much longer.


I've been running for two years, and am growing in confidence all the time. Recently I have started to have the confidence to say “long distance running really isn't for me”. For many people – I would go so far as to say for most runners I know – long distances are what they enjoy, and are maybe even the point of running. So many runners have a marathon or an ultra as their ultimate running goal. But I just don't have that desire. Above all I love running as fast as I can – and for anything much longer than 5k, it becomes more about holding back for most of the race and then picking up pace towards the end. I don't enjoy that; I'd rather run fast for the whole distance.


And then there's the tiredness. An energetic half hour run will leave me tired for several hours, but a run of an hour or more will absolutely wipe me out. I'll definitely need a nap when I get home, and then I will spend the rest of the day weary and listless. That seems such a waste on a precious day off!

Yesterday I ran in my first 10k race. I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, as you can tell from my dubious expression in the picture above, and the weather was really far too hot for racing. I spent the race thinking about distance and tiredness, and how running has to be so carefully fitted in to my days off. When I finished the race I was so very glad it was over. A small part of me though was also very pleased I'd entered, as I had finally convinced myself that 5k and 1500m are the best race distances for me, and fit in better with the way I work and relax.


Tomorrow I start a batch of three nightshifts. Nightshifts are where running really comes in handy. If I go for a hard run in the morning before I go to bed, I can absolutely guarantee a good day's sleep afterwards. It also helps me feel like I've done something other than just work and sleep, which is generally how nightshifts leave me feeling.


So tomorrow – if it's not too hot – I will get up at 6am, have a quick cup of tea and then head up to the forest or to the Olympic Park for a run. When I get back I'll eat a big, hearty, healthy breakfast (my other guaranteed method of sleeping well during the day), have a long soak in the bath with magazine or two, and then go back to bed for the rest of the day. Doesn't sound too bad, does it!

The Olympic Park at about 7:30am yesterday - shortly before my race