That bit between Christmas and New year…

It’s that bit in the middle, Christmas week. Which seems like a few Sundays and a few Saturdays all mixed together. No one ever knows what the day is, it’s the only time of the year where we know the date first…people have been at the sales, sporting venues and at work in shops all day!

We have said goodbye to the relatives and all the family are in bed, it’s 8pm.
I did something new today; I marshalled for our local parkrun event in Wolverhampton. Parkrun is a weekly 5k timed run that take place in different venues up and down the country. For many it’s the first place they go to run with others. Kind of a coming out fit thing. I have now done 4 parkruns. I have a lot to go to get my 50th run TShirt. I am making an effort. But today I put on a hi vis jacket and stood and applauded people as they ran round the route. It was fun; I enjoyed it. But it was cold. About 2 degrees, if the car is to be believed.

Why did I volunteer? Because without volunteers, the event can’t take place. I’m not so good that I can run all by myself properly yet, but I appreciate that if there weren’t people willing to do this, then I wouldn’t even have a chance to participate. I see young men smash their times, old men chase their dreams, families with expectations and aspirations and the plodders, who, like me, just want to see if they can.

Without volunteers. Imagine our lives and those of the needy without volunteers. Thankfully I know many friends who have volunteered over Christmas, and I thank them for making this effort, much greater than my hour this morning. Thank you for volunteering.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following my blog, giving me an audience and encouraging me to keep jotting my thoughts down. Happy New Year to you all.

I am enjoying my break, I need the sleep. I have marking to do and a few family and friends to catch up with, but for now there is peace and there is calm and there is Mulled wine. 🙂

I don’t want Santa to come!…

And so I said goodnight to my 6year old daughter; who has expressed her desire for the gifts, but slight trepidation at the thought of an old, slight tubby, bearded old man creeping into her bedroom when everyone else is asleep. And to be honest I don’t blame her. I was filled with that slight mystical fear when I was her age. I would spend hours, after my mum had said good night, staring out of my bedroom window trying to convince myself that the stars were sleighs, the trees were elves and that passing cars had bells that jingled the arrival of Father Christmas (never Santa when I was a child).

I still believe in Father Christmas. This isn’t one of those blogs to scientifically denounce the obvious. What amazed me, and is quite frankly blog worthy, is the fact that my girls have wrapped up a present that they bought for my husband. The unusual thing is that they have labelled it to him from Santa. In one small action they have moved from wide eyed wonder of the mystical deliverer of gifts, to being conspiratorial in his perpetuation! I swore to them that I would keep their secret, and as my husband is currently peeling a lorry load of sprouts, then I am fairly safe.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. I’m going to try to go for a run in the morning, but as I have only managed it once since I broke up, I think a brisk walk to church will be more likely. We have Grandpa with us, and we will sit down to Duck. The day will be fairly relaxed. My eldest has set her alarm for 7.30am; her reasoning was that if she wakes up too early she will know because her alarm won’t be on!!?

I would like to wish you all a very Happy Christmas and Happy Holidays.
I am hoping to blog again before New Year so I will save that salutation for later. 🙂

So why am I doing an insane sports challenge? Jantastic…my apology.

About two weeks ago a friend of mine introduced me to the Facebook group ‘Run Mummy Run’. It does exactly as it suggests; a group of like minded females who juggle home life and the desire to keep fit and healthy through running. I was intrigued, I’m not a runner. I can count for you the number of ‘runs’ I have done – ever. Five 5k and two 2k with my daughters and a couple of plods either round the block or on the treadmill. That’s it. And one of those occasions gained me shin splints!

So why am I signing up to a commitment that will last three months? To be honest I thought it was one, and as I type I am contemplating backing out! Jantastic sounds like a one month, four week commitment. And if I did that I’m sure I could manage. But (and it is a big one) would I actually see any difference in myself in four weeks?

It’s not just about the physical fitness, it’s not just about New Year New Leaf, it’s about my mental strength. Telling my mind that physically I can achieve this and that it needs to stop complaining and enjoy the ride. I want to achieve something I have never done. I want to run a 5k in less than 35mins and a 10k in less than 1 hour 20min, although I have no idea if I can yet. I will have a better idea by the end of March.

If I have these aspirations, and they aren’t pie in the sky wishes, then others may have. Jantastic is an amazing creation to motivate and support. I have joined team RMR (Run mummy run) and I know I will have the chance to meet, chat and post my journey, along with the other mummys who are either revisiting this challenge or who are, like me, starting to find out something new about themselves.

If you do nothing else this year, join a team for Jantastic and set yourself a goal…because if you don’t do it no one can do it for you. Have a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Jantastic rules 2015… From their website

I’ve signed up for this, God knows why…I feel the need to challenge myself more than I already am. If I can do it, I truly believe anyone can. More to follow…

Jantastic rules 2015

Get motivated with Jantastic. The new year fitness challenge that will get you started and keep you going.

Your challenge: better health, fitness and performance takes time. jantastic is all about commitment, consistency, accountability and motivation.

Jantastic is open to all abilities and aspirations. Whether you are a first time exerciser looking to get started with a physical activity campaign or a regular athlete aiming for your next personal best Jantastic will work for you.

You set your own personal activity targets and strive to stick to them. It’s that simple.

Jantastic takes place during January, February and March. Each month is split into a four-week period. During each four-week period you’ll set yourself personal activity goals.

As Jantastic progresses through January, February and March so does the level of your challenge.

You goal is to finish the challenge with a Jantastic score of 100! This means you’ll have met every target you set yourself and can brag about it for the rest of the year. As well as celebrate a fitter, healthier, faster you!

You can participate in Jantastic by running, cycling or swimming, or any combination of these. Each time you complete a workout you log it on your Jantastic.me profile page to claim your workout and contribute to your Jantastic score.

What to do.

First four weeks – Monday January the 5th to Sunday February the 1st.
Getting going. The first four weeks focus on frequency and consistency.
Set yourself a target number of workouts to complete each week throughout January. For example, 1 swim, 1 run and 1 bike each week.

Second four weeks – Monday February the 2nd to Sunday March the 1st.
Upping your game. The second four weeks focus on frequency, consistency and distance. Set a target for the number of workouts you’ll do each week throughout February and a target for the single longest workout distance each week. For example, one swim, two runs each week and a single longest weekly run of six miles.

Third four weeks – Monday March the 2nd to Sunday March the 29th.
One final push. The final four weeks focus on frequency, consistency, distance and performance.
Set a personal target for the number of workouts you’ll do each week, the distance of each week’s longest workout and also set a target time for a single workout over a set distance. Your target time can be an organised race or event, a time trial, or solo effort of your choice. For example, one swim, two runs and one bike each week, a single longest weekly run of eight miles and a target time for running 10k of fifty minutes.

Setting your targets.

Jantastic is about personal challenge, ambition, health and lifestyle improvement and most of all achievement.
Your personal goal should be ambitious for you, challenging, yet at the same time realistic. Set yourself targets that will be a stretch but that will make you feel mighty pleased and proud when you attain them. Targets are set on your Jantastic profile page.

First four weeks (January) – You must log your target number of workouts before midnight (GMT) on Sunday the 4th of January 2015. You can change your target number of runs at any time up until this point.

Second four weeks (February) – You must log your target number of weekly workouts and your longest weekly activity distance targets before midnight (GMT) on Sunday the 1st of February 2015. You can set your February targets throughout the last two weeks of January.

Third four week (March) – You must set your targets for number of workouts and longest weekly workout before midnight (GMT) on Sunday the 1st of March. You can add and change your target timed effort workout at any time until midnight the day before your timed workout is scheduled to take place.

The minimum.

The minimum number of activity workouts you need to commit to participate in jantastic is two per week. Why two? Any less than this and you are not making a real commitment to your health, fitness or performance. We want you to complete Jantastic proud of yourself, feeling amazing and ready to continue a commitment to regular exercise, exercise more often, or smash your personal best.

You can register a maximum of 14 workouts per week. A workout can be a single run, ride or swim completed at any level that you choose to participate.

What constitutes a workout?

It’s really up to you but we think that as a minimum guide to claim your Jantastic workout then the following simple rules apply:

A Jantastic workout is at least 30 minutes engaged in your chosen activity.

Running = 30 minutes of running or jog/walking.
You can run anywhere, in the gym, in the park, on the treadmill, on the trails or roads.

Swimming = 30 minutes from entry into water until exit from the water.
You can swim in a pool at a leisure centre or gym, the sea, a river or lake. If it’s wet and you can swim in it, it’s a swim!

Cycling = 30 minutes with your feet turning a set of pedals.
You can ride a spin bike, a stationary bike, or outside on the roads or paths.

If you connect your Jantastic account with Strava then you’ll be able to automatically claim your workouts and track your distances and routes, as well as lots more exciting things.

Ultimately, this is an honesty-based challenge. The real competition is with yourself. If you think it really doesn’t constitute a workout, then it probably doesn’t. Be honest with yourself.

Logging your workouts.

Your Jantastic score starts at zero on Monday January the 5th and increases with every target workout logged.

Workouts are logged via your ‘My Jantastic’ profile page and you can only log your workouts after you’ve completed them. Workouts can be logged cumulatively / daily as you do them or collectively together at the end of each week and before the cut off (0800 Tuesday of the following week).

The ‘cut off’ – jantastic weeks run from Monday to Sunday and all workouts for the previous week must be logged by 08:00 (GMT) on Tuesday of the following week. No extensions or exceptions under any circumstances so don’t forget! Remembering to log your runs by the cut off is all part of your commitment to jantastic and the challenge to yourself.

Week one of Jantastic runs from Monday the 5th of January to Sunday the 11th of January 2015. You will be able to log runs that you complete in that week any time from Monday the 5th of January through to 08:00 (GMT) Tuesday the 13th of January. Any runs you complete prior to Monday the 5th won’t count for week one (but are good practice!).

Solo or part of a team?

You can participate in Jantastic as an individual, you can join an existing team or you can create your own team. Creating your own team is a great way to motivate your friends to join you, get fitter, healthier and have some fun!

Teams are categorised by the number of participants, small (6-10), medium (11-20) or large (21+).

You can only be a member of one Jantastic team. You are allowed to leave and join a different team until the challenge starts. Once the challenge has started you may leave a team where numbers in your team are not sufficient to make up a small team (six members).

Rivals.

To help you with motivation you can select ‘rivals’. A rival can be someone you know or someone you don’t, on the same team or a different team. They could be people doing the same number of workouts as you, people in your club, friends, strangers, people your age group or those in your town. Your ‘My jantastic’ profile will allow you to select rivals and see updates on your rivals’ progress. When someone ‘rivals’ you, you’ll get sent a notification offering you the opportunity to rival them back.

Playing a joker.

Although Jantastic is about keeping you motivated, keeping you on track with your fitness goals sometimes you need to listen to your body and not do your planned workout.

Playing your ‘joker’ enables you to claim 50% of your weekly workouts without actually doing them! This is ideal when you’re feeling under the weather, miss your workout, or unexpectedly can’t or failed to fit it in.

Terms of a joker:
1. You have two jokers that you can play across the jantastic challenge2. You can only play 1 joker in any challenge month3. A joker can also be used to change disciplines. For example, you’ve picked up a little niggle and want to log two of your target four workouts as swims instead of runs in a given week.

Illness.

Jantastic is not about pushing on regardless but about learning to listen to your body. If you are ill or injured and running isn’t a good idea then play a joker to maintain your 100%. Do not simply get your head down and crack on if you’re in pain or feeling under the weather. Listen to your body and take rest.

My Jantastic profile.

This is your Jantastic dashboard and it’s the place to go for all your interaction, updates, results, rewards and to log your workouts.

As you progress through Jantastic we’ll send you regular updates to keep your spirits up, you’ll be able to collect ‘challenge badges’ along the way and see how you’re progressing towards your overall Jantastic score and reaching your aspiration.

Prizes – This is an honesty based challenge and so, as such, there are no performance-based prizes for winning.

Everyone who ‘completes’ each month of the challenge will be automatically entered into a random prize draw to win fantastic prizes.

‘Completion’ is defined as the submission of at least one workout for at least two of the four weeks of each month.

The overall challenge prize is open to anyone who completes all three months (12 weeks) of the challenge. Everyone who complete the full challenge will be automatically entered into a random overall prize draw.

Your Jantastic score.

For each week of the challenge you get a ‘Jantastic score’ shown as a percentage (%) of success. If you complete all of your targeted workouts (and log them) you’ll score 100% for that week. Your goal is maintain the highest Jantastic score you can throughout the challenge campaign.

To achieve 100% overall in jantastic you would need to log every single workout you set yourself, reach the distance of every single longest workout target and reach or exceed your target timed workout time to within one second! You’ll lose points if you drop workouts, do less distance or fail to hit your distance target time. (You don’t get any more points if you do more workouts, log greater distances or go faster that you thought you would).

Remember, although Jantastic is about motivation, commitment and consistency it’s also about the process of change and improvement. It’s up to you to keep your honest head and acknowledge the importance of the process.

How team scores are worked out.

For team scoring the average percentage of the highest scoring three quarters of team members is taken, i.e. if you have 20 members then we take the average score of the best performing 15 for that month. That way if you have one or two people in a team who drop out early or keep forgetting to log their workouts then it won’t affect your team’s score. In order to receive a team score you will need the number of scoring individuals to be at least equal to the number of runners required to satisfy that team size.

Please do remember that the success of a team depends on how well that team works together and a huge component of achieving a high team score is working together to motivate each other and perhaps even sending round reminders on a Monday morning to get those workouts logged.

Finally

Above everything else this is about having fun so do your best to be your best whilst remembering to enjoy the Jantastic journey.

With thanks to Hayley, Paul and Alan

I started teaching in 1996 after completing my BA (Hons) and PGCE in Lancaster, S. martin’s College. I loved my four years at uni by the Lake District and felt ready to take on the world with my utopian view and idealism.

I got my first job in Birmingham and was excited to share my knowledge with the fresh faced Brummie children, who would obviously love me and my particular take on English Literature and communication skills.

It is nearly 20 years since that first year, but I remember it, it is etched onto my long term memory vividly; I had one class with three ‘characters’ Hayley, Paul and Alan. I have to be honest, these students taught me more about how to handle a class and behaviour management than any CPD or observation. They were more critical than OFSTED and every lesson became as daunting as being observed by your HoD. The combination of these three individuals reduced me to tears on a regular basis and I remember being mopped up by other teachers and my HoD, who tried to support and give advice on how to proceed. Nothing helped. I had a healthy dislike for them, almost as much as I have a regard for them now. I nagged them to complete class work, homework was out of the question. I battled to get them to sit on a chair, rather than stand on the desk; I bribed and persuaded them to listen rather than talk…I could paint a graphic tale that many of you would understand, if you have worked fresh faced in an inner city educational establishment.

I have met children since who have tried to match these trailblazers, but they come up short. I have resources my current year 7,8,9,10 and 11 know nothing about. Even when they are trying their hardest, they never come close. It was almost as if I was vaccinated in my earliest years and have been hardened and immune to attempted onslaughts ever since. I am able to advise my newer colleagues, passing on my wisdom, gained from my three mentors right at the very beginning. I can empathise and I can predict what will happen if I take a group down a particular avenue of learning or enquiry. It has honed my sixth sense and made me more confident.

So, a at this generous time of year, I extend my thanks to the three students who, without whom, would mean I’m a lesser teacher than I currently am. I would like to thank them, and I’m sure if I ever met them in town I would be able to say hello…after all it’s been nearly 20 years. Thank you Hayley, Paul and Alan.

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Being good enough…even at Christmas.

Thank the stars the holidays are here! But now I have time to stop and look around my house, I realise that my other job has been neglected. I have 3 days to make my house fit for Christmas. What should I do, break my neck and, with even less energy, attempt to bully my household into action?

I read a phrase on another blog about being ‘good enough’. I am planning a good enough Christmas. I will make sure that my house is clean and fairly tidy, but I’m not going to clutter it with 153 decorations, which I will have to sort out in a fortnight’s time. My husband and girls did the tree, this year a real one, and it was great to see when I returned home the other evening.

My husband and I have been wrapping gifts for a while, little and often, fitting it in when we chilled at the end of a busy few weeks. I realised that to have a good enough Christmas you still have to plan. I haven’t done so well with Christmas cards, but I will do festive emails and keep in touch that way! I have friends who don’t even display cards any more!

We will have casseroles and roasts and of course the cheese board with ham. I love Christmas cooking, but I’m useless at it. I cook proper food and according to my husband, I am great with leftovers! So I will be in charge on Boxing Day!

We are going to have a chilled out two weeks. The rigours of school are more and more demanding for me and my girls and by contrast home life is becoming more and more relaxed, something has to give and fortunately the teamwork at home means we can get it all together and have a good enough Christmas without stress. Happy Holidays.

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Playing with the Pain

Poetry By Impulse

i didn’t want to talk about death and the end of time.

i wanted love and sex and rapturous applause.

but all this bullshit & anger that she held inside

has just erupted at me like a ten ton truck of violent noise.

& i am tired of the battles & solemn with the grief

i am trying to escape & feed my self

but the windows are broken & there’s glass underneath

and the rooms are empty & the mood is grey.

for she’s left blood in my face & a deep wound in my core

& i’m telling you now, i can’t take anymore!

I have huddled in corners & lost my mind.

I have walked the streets in paine & cried cold rivers

I have talked to the dead & made many friends

I’ve considered my demise, drowning or scissors

& all this because of a girl…

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