The cost of becoming an Olympian

Like the majority of sports obsessed children, I used to love watching the summer Olympics. I started to ride horses before I could walk, and spent my evenings, weekends and school holidays improving my riding and jumping skills.By the time I was 14 I had lofty ambitions of being selected to represent my country in showjumping at the Olympics.

Although an injury ended my own Olympic ambitions when I was only 16, I have continued to follow the sport. Watching Nick Skelton finally win an individual Olympic gold medal last week on his horse Big Star at the age of 58 was amazing. Nick had been forced to retire after breaking his neck in 2000, but returned to the sport two years later.

Perhaps I could come out of retirement? Watching the showjumping got me thinking about the possibility of me competing for Team GB at the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020. How much would it cost and how many hours of training would it take?

Voucherbox recently conducted some research to determine exactly how much it would cost and how long it would take to train to become an Olympic qualifier in time for Tokyo 2020. Researchers looked at the time and financial investment required to master a wide variety of Olympic sports in time for the next Olympics.

Researchers found that aspiring Olympians train for an average of five and a half hours per day, six days a week. However, the vast differences of hiring world-class coaches and buying equipment across different sporting disciplines led to some massive differences in the cost of achieving that elusive Olympic dream.Olympic-infographic

[Source]

I was surprised to read that researchers found that triathlon was the fastest sport to master – requiring an average time investment of just 5200 hours over the next four years. I had always assumed that having to master the three components of triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – would take longer than a sport such as Judo or Badminton.

Unfortunately, the cost of mastering an equestrian sporting discipline such as showjumping – £468,000 for four years – immediately rules me out of Tokyo 2020. To start now and be ready for Team GB’s equestrian team in 2020 I would have to put in a massive 6240 hours of training. I sometimes struggle to find the time to complete four training runs a week, so suspect that dedicating 30 hours per week to horse riding would be impossible.

If you could represent Team GB in any sport at an Olympic Games, which sport would it be?

Do you think it’s possible to progress from a beginner to an Olympian in just four years?

**This post was written in collaboration with Voucherbox**

Great Birmingham Run training week 8

Thanks for all of the lovely comments on my last training update blog. My family and friends don’t really understand my slight obsession with running, so your comments really helped motivate me as I approached the halfway stage of my half marathon training.Collage 20

I ended the seventh week of my half marathon training with a challenging 55 minute run. Fortunately, week eight of my training plan consisted of a taper and 5 km time trial. Week eight consisted of rest days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – have I mentioned how much I love rest days, a 20 minute run on Tuesday and a 10 minute run on Thursday. The plan recommended that I complete a 10 minute run on Saturday before attempting a 5k time trial on Sunday. I switched around Saturday and Sunday’s training sessions so that I could make it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun for the first time since February!

Monday – Rest

I love Monday rest days! I spent the morning putting the various bits of unwanted running gear I’d sold on eBay the previous evening into jiffy bags. Although I did my best to avoid the busier lunchtime period, I was not very popular with some of the other customers at the local Post Office. If looks could kill, my half marathon training would have ended on Monday. On a more positive note I’d made enough money to buy myself another pair of Brooks Adrenalines. Evidently my feet have an expensive taste in trainers.

Tuesday – 20 mins steady

My alarm woke me up at 05:30 and I immediately thought “sod it”. After lying in bed weighing up the various pros and cons of morning versus lunchtime runs, I eventually dragged myself out of bed at 06:15 and was more or less ready to run 15 minutes later. Although the sky was blue and it was really sunny, it was also pretty cold. As I felt great I decided to attempt my slightly more challenging two-mile route. As per usual the first five minutes or so of the run were challenging, however, once I’d warmed-up and settled into my stride I found the remainder of the run quite easy. Week eight had got off to a positive start [Strava].

Wednesday – Rest

Another rest day, I love this training plan. I spent the morning working on my rivers of the Anthropocene paper, if you haven’t read about the Anthropocene I wouldn’t bother unless you want to feel really, really depressed. I also wrote a quick review of the Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers Brooks had very kindly sent me earlier this year. The Adrenalines are great – I just wish that they weren’t so expensive. Hopefully the GT 17s will be released soon. In the afternoon I changed into some of the gym gear I’m not brave enough to wear in public, and completed the majority of Oiselle’s Dirty Dozen core routine.

Thursday – 10 mins steady

Once again I found running for 10 minutes both mentally and physically challenging. My breathing was all over the place and I really struggled to complete the training run. I felt tired when I finished, and as I walked back home I somehow managed to jar my fragile left foot. Fortunately, my foot appeared to feel slightly better after I’d iced it. Being a hypochondriac and a runner is a nightmare! [Strava].

Collage 21

Once I’d decided that my left foot wasn’t broken, I decided that I was well enough to travel down to London. The train journey was uneventful and I met up with my friend in Marylebone. I managed to convince my non-sporty friend to watch the final stages of the men’s triathlon. The Brownlee brothers were absolutely bloody amazing. We had a couple of pints in the Gun Makers and then headed across to Pizza Express on Regent Street. Watching several groups of runners run past made me realise just how much I missed training with my running club.

Friday – Rest

After leaving my friend at Waterloo station – there may have been some tears on the main concourse – I spent an unsuccessful hour or so trying to track down a pair of Women’s Adrenalines in a size 9. I tried four different running shops and was offered more expensive Transcends, Adrenalines in a size 8 and a couple of pairs of Men’s Adrenalines. I was reminded why I do most of my shopping online.

Saturday – 5k race or time-trial

Although it was dark, wet and windy when I woke up and I felt really tired, I forced myself to get out of bed and into some running gear. After a slightly stressful journey, I had finally made it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. I quickly discovered that I’d forgotten how to run in anything other than first gear. I tried to speed up but couldn’t. I eventually finished in a not very impressive 28:05. Last year I would have been happy with a sub-30 minute parkrun, on Saturday I was disappointed that I was unable to get nearer that elusive sub-25 minute time [Strava].   Collage 22

I spent the afternoon working my way through the mountain of washing that had accumulated during the week and preparing some more listings for eBay. I discovered that Sweatshop had some Adrenalines in my size on sale for £80 and used my parkrun discount to get the price down to £64. Slightly cheaper than the £100 to £110 they would have cost me in London.

Sunday – 10 mins very easy jog

When I eventually got out of bed at 08:00, I discovered that my right knee was feeling quite painful. Fortunately I only had to complete a 10 minute jog, so I decided to see if I could actually run. I got changed into some running gear, drank a glass of milk, did some stretches and headed out the door. It was a typical August morning – cold, wet and windy. I walked for a couple of minutes and then started to jog. As my right knee felt okay and was actually functioning as a knee, I decided to speed up. Less than ten minutes later I’d completed week eight of my half marathon training [Strava].

So that’s the eighth week of my half marathon training completed. I can’t believe that I’ve managed to reach the halfway stage of my training without too many major injury scares. Once again I was reminded that hills are not my friend and that I need to slow down.

Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and is described as the second “building phase”. Slightly scary! I’ve got to complete a 10 minute run tomorrow, a 35 minute run on both Wednesday and Friday and a 65 minute run on Sunday. After feeling so knackered after running for 55 minutes last Sunday, I genuinely have no idea if I’ll be able to run for 65 minutes.

Training totals

  • Runs: 25
  • Time: 8 hours 35 mins
  • Distance: 87.06 kms

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 28:05
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12

Niggleometer

  • Left foot: 5/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Calf muscles: 2/10

Do you buy your trainers in-store or online? I used to buy all of my trainers from a local specialist running store but now I’m skint I tend to look for the best deals online.

Do you tend to run on your own or with other people? Although I love running on my own I’m already looking forward to returning to my running club in October.

 

My go-to shoe: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16

I’ve been running for over 25 years. As a result I own far too many pairs of running shoes. I have a pair of spikes for cross country, a pair for middle distance track running and a pair for the long jump. I doubt that I’ll ever get to wear these running spikes again but I’m reluctant to part with them. I also have several pairs of trail shoes, some fell shoes and a couple of pairs of racing flats. I’ve worn several different styles and brands of what I call everyday trainers during my running career. Some have suited my rather strange running gait, others haven’t and have left me unable to run.

So where’s all of this leading? At the start of the year Brooks very kindly sent me a pair of the latest Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers. I’ve worn the Adrenalines for more than 200 miles, so feel that I’m in a good position to share some of my thoughts.

I first wore the Adrenalines at Walsall Arboretum parkrun. I took the Adrenalines out of their box, replaced the insoles with my customised insoles, and ran my fastest 5 km in years.parkrun pbI think it’s always a pretty good sign when you don’t notice your trainers when you are running. We were off to a very positive start.

As a result of the parkrun success, I wore the Adrenalines on most of my longer London Marathon training runs. When I packed my bags for the marathon weekend, the Adrenalines and my running number were the first items I packed.  I figured that I could easily replace everything else.

Kit choices

The marathon itself was relatively uneventful. Although I ended the day with a couple of blisters – perhaps not surprising with my lack of training – I was able to walk around London the next day. The Adrenalines had clearly looked after my feet.

Following the London Marathon my focus turned to my autumn target event – the Great Birmingham Run half marathon. I started training for the half marathon at the end of June and am about to reach the halfway point of my training. I’ve worn the Adrenalines on every training run and can honestly say that my feet have never felt in better condition.

Brooks collage 1

There have been cold and wet training runs – the Adrenalines aren’t so great on wet surfaces, hot training runs, scenic training runs and challenging training runs. When I returned home from a recent early morning training run I discovered that I’d run just over 200 miles in my Adrenalines.

Brooks training

That’s 200 miles of virtually pain free running. The Adrenalines have enabled this injury-prone runner to train consistently for the first time in what feels like years. Thanks Brooks! The realisation that I would probably need to replace the Adrenalines at some point before the Great Birmingham Run in October suddenly hit me. Although the Adrenalines look fine I wanted to know when they would need replacing.

Brooks collage 2

Unfortunately, as the Adrenalines are quite expensive, I hoped that they would see me through most of the rest of my half marathon training. I found the following answer to my question:

“A standard performance running shoe, such as the Trance or Adrenaline GTS, will typically last for between 300-500 miles…” [Source].

Great news!

So thank you again Brooks for sending me a pair of the latest Adrenaline GTS 16. After 25 years of running I think that I’ve finally found my very own go-to shoe.

**Full disclosure: I was sent the Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers by Brooks.  As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Great Birmingham Run training week 7

I ended the sixth week of my Great Birmingham Run with a 45 minute run. Although the 45 minutes of pavement pounding was enjoyable, I felt pretty shattered when I finished running. I was concerned that my inability to sleep for more than five hours a night was going to catch up with me during the seventh week of my half marathon training.Collage 17

Week seven of my training plan – the first peak training week – looked quite challenging, and for the first time I doubted my ability to successfully complete all of the training runs. I was to run four times during the week for the first time, starting with a harder back-to-back 20 minute run on Monday. The training plan also contained a 30 minute run on Wednesday and 10 minute run on Friday. To end the week I was given the option of running for between 50 and 55 minutes on Sunday. Although I had enjoyed my 45 minute run the previous Sunday, I didn’t feel confident that I would be able to run for an additional 10 minutes. So how did week seven go? Did I manage to run for 55 minutes?

Monday – 20 mins easy/steady

I had planned to get up early to complete the 20 minute run that had sneakily replaced the usual Monday rest day. My alarm went off at 05:00, I reached out, turned it off and immediately went back to sleep. I guess my body was telling me that it needed more rest. I had recorded the first failure of this training cycle!

After spending a couple of hours reviewing an unpublished manuscript, I was ready to escape my desk for an hour or so. Although I didn’t feel 100 per cent, I was confident that I would be able to run for 20 minutes. I got changed into some running gear and headed to Four Oaks Estate. I would have run from home, however, most of the pavements had been cunningly converted into an assault course during the morning.

As I worked through my warm-up routine I became increasingly nauseous and also started to feel quite lightheaded. Not a winning combination. I thought about abandoning my run but decided to take it easy and to run at a sensible pace. At times I have to question my complete lack of common sense. I completed the 20 minute run [Strava], somehow made it back home, had a shower, ate some lunch and then spent the rest of the day feeling really cold. I could not stop shivering and clearly shouldn’t have run. Sorry body [Strava].

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday was a complete write-off. Fortunately, it was also a rest day so I wasn’t tempted to run again while feeling unwell. In the evening I laid out some running gear in preparation for Wednesday morning’s run, and hoped that I would feel well enough to run in the morning.

Wednesday – 30 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I felt really groggy but well enough to attempt a 30 minute run. I was pleased to see that it was raining – have I mentioned how much I love running in the rain… I went to the loo, got dressed, had something to drink and headed out the door. I felt pretty cold walking in the rain so limited my ‘warm-up’ walk to five minutes. I didn’t want to make myself ill again.

When I considered how unwell I’d felt the previous day I was quite pleased with my run. The rest day had helped my legs recover from Sunday, the tiredness I had experienced during Monday’s run had disappeared. I ran at a sensible pace for the first four kilometres and then speeded up as I approached the 5k distance [Strava]. Collage 18

I got home, made myself drink some orange nuun, had a shower, got dressed and prepared myself for a day of reading about the Anthropocene. I then made the mistake of reading an article on the Runner’s World USA website.  The article was reporting that a third female runner in nine days had been killed while out running alone in the daytime. The article got me thinking. I always run alone and had never considered the potential dangers. I never tell anyone when I’m heading out for a run, and never know exactly where I’ll be running. It was still relatively dark at 05:30 and sunrise is going to get later in the lead up to the Great Birmingham Run.

Thursday – Rest

My right knee was quite niggly in the morning, so I was relieved that Thursday was a rest day. Mum picked me up at 11:00 and we headed across to Sutton Park for the first time in what felt like ages for a walk around Blackroot Pool. I was worried the Park would be really busy due to the nice weather and the school holidays but it was quiet, strange. Unfortunately, my right knee felt quite painful during the walk so as soon as I got home I reached for my icepack and sat working with it balanced on my dodgy knee. In the afternoon I worked through some of my knee and arse strengthening exercises. I felt quietly confident I’d be able to complete my next training run.

Friday – 10 mins easy jog

I was woken early by the sun shining through my bedroom window – had summer finally returned to Four Oaks? I must have gone back to sleep again, fortunately my alarm woke me again at 06:45. I went to the loo, got dressed into some running gear (I’ll never know why I wore a long-sleeved top), drank some water and headed out the door. I didn’t bother to warm-up as I was only going to be running for 10 minutes.

Can somebody explain to me why I found running for “only” 10 minutes so difficult? My breathing was all over the place and my pace was erratic. I felt shattered when I finished running and had to rest for a minute get my breath back. Wednesday’s 30 minute run was a lot easier. Running is a strange sport. On a more positive note I’d successfully completed another run [Strava].

Saturday – Rest

I spent most of Saturday trying to watch the athletics, keep an eye on the score in the cricket and also in the tennis as I’d been instructed to record Andy Murray’s match. It was quite stressful at times and watching all the amazing athletes made me feel really lazy. I read a really interesting article on the Science of Sport website – World Records: Fossils, stagnation and a tale of two drugs. After the World Record in the women’s 10,000 metres was smashed on Friday think it’s a must-read for athletics supporters.

I wanted to watch Jessica Ennis-Hill et al in the athletics but decided to have an early night. I don’t function very well on zero hours sleep, and I wanted to give myself the best chance of completing what I suspected would be the most physically and mentally challenging run of my half marathon training so far.

Sunday – 50-55 mins continuous jog/run

After only managing to sleep for approximately 4 hours – I woke up just before my alarm at 05:15. The first thing I noticed was how dark it was outside, I suspected my extra early Sunday morning training runs would soon be coming to an end. I went to the loo, got dressed, had something to drink and headed out the door. After a quick warm-up I felt physically if not mentally prepared to attempt a 55 minute run.

The first ten minutes or so of the run felt terrible, I’m not going to lie I felt like heading back home to bed after 10 minutes. For some reason there were quite a few cars around. Not one driver bothered to indicate, so I was left playing ‘guess which way the car will turn’ at a couple of junctions – irritating before 06:00 on a Sunday.  Although the second ten minutes felt slightly easier, by the time I’d been running for 5 km I was really struggling. When I realised that I still had to run for another 20 to 25 minutes I almost started to walk. My right knee was hurting and my calf muscles felt really tight – for a few minutes I was actually struggling to lift my right leg – I was shuffling rather than along the pavement. I reached 40 minutes and started to plan my route back home.Collage 19

Although due to my knee issues I wanted to avoid running down any steep hills, I didn’t want to have to spend the final mile of my run struggling to run uphill. In the end I felt so knackered the downhill option won. As I was running towards home I somehow managed to trip over what looked like a leaf. I looked around to make sure that no one had seen me fall over and carried on running. A couple of minutes later I’d somehow managed to complete week seven of my Great Birmingham Run training [Strava].

So that’s the seventh week of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed. I’m almost halfway though my training plan, amazing. I was reminded that I’m not invincible and discovered that it takes a long time to recover physically from a training run at the age of 37.

Although next week’s training plan contains four runs, it is described as a “taper week”. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are rest days – I love rest days! I’m hoping that my various niggles will allow me to complete a 20 minute run on Tuesday and a 10 minute run on Thursday. I’m tempted to switch around Saturday’s 10 minute run and Sunday’s 5k race as I want to run at Walsall parkrun.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 7 hours 55 mins
  • Distance: 80.10 kms

Niggleometer

  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Calf muscles: 2/10
  • Shins: 1/10

Do you tell people when and where you are going running? I live alone and I’m single so  I don’t exactly have anyone to worry about me not returning from a run.

Do you try to avoid running up hills towards to end of your training runs? I suspect that I’m lazier than a lot of runners.

What really irritates you when you are out running? Obviously I get really annoyed when drivers can’t be bothered to indicate at junctions. I also hate dog mess on pavements and parked cars that completely block the pavement.

Red Kooga Natural Energy Release review

As you know I’ve been training for the Great Birmingham Run since the end of June. The combination of warm evenings and light mornings has meant that I’ve also been struggling to sleep. As a result of my limited sleep and increased training I’ve been feeling really tired after lunch – not ideal for my afternoon productivity.

When I received an email in June asking me if I would like to review a new herbal product – Red Kooga Natural Energy Release, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. I received the sample of Red Kooga in the post and then decided to delay my product testing until after I’d given blood at the start of July.

What is Red Kooga?

Red Kooga Natural Energy release apparently enhances both energy and sports performance using tried and tested herbs. The tablets contain a unique combination of vitalising natural ingredients:

  • Panax ginseng – a herb used in the Orient for thousands of years to promote vitality and maintain mental alertness.
  • Guarana – a herb that helps to provide a natural source of caffeine.
  • The recommended daily allowance of B Complex Vitamins – to help maintain a healthy nervous system and help release energy from food.

Red Kooga 2

Did Red Kooga make me feel more energised?

Normally, I’m not a huge fan of taking tablets and will always try to source the vitamins and nutrients I need from food. In addition, I was slightly dubious about some of the claims the product manufacturers were making.

As Red Kooga aims to provide a natural energy boost, I tried taking the tablets before I would usually experience mid-morning and afternoon energy slumps. I initially tried taking a couple of tablets at the start of the day – I hoped that this would eliminate my mid-morning energy slump. Unfortunately, the tablets didn’t appear to make me feel more energised and I still felt quite tired in the lead up to lunch.

On the days I get up really early to fit in a training run before it gets too warm, I’ve really struggled to stay awake during the afternoon. On some occasions I actually had to have an afternoon nap. Not ideal! I decided to take a couple of tablets with my lunch to see if they would help eliminate my post-training run afternoon fatigue and naps. This time the tablets did seem to make a difference, and I felt far more energised and mentally alert during the afternoon. I definitely didn’t need a post-training run afternoon nap.

The Verdict

Although the Red Kooga tablets didn’t always manage to completely eliminate my energy slumps and tiredness, on the days I didn’t take the tablets I definitely noticed a difference in my energy levels. Perhaps this was some sort of placebo effect – I genuinely don’t know. I do know that my afternoons were far more productive on the days I did take a couple of Red Kooga tablets with my lunch.

Red Kooga is available in Boots for £7.99. I’ve already purchased some more to help me remain more mentally alert on my longer training run days.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a box of Red Kooga Natural Energy Release tablets for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**

Great Birmingham Run training week 6

After ending week five of my half marathon training with a really enjoyable 35 minute run, I was hoping for more of the same during the sixth week of my training.

Collage 15

The first two runs of week six looked simple – I was to run for 20 minutes on Tuesday and for 30 minutes on Thursday. Both runs were meant to be completed at an “easy” pace. I was given the option of running for between 40 and 45 minutes at a “very easy pace” on Sunday. After feeling great during my 35 minute run the previous Sunday I felt confident I could run continuously for 45 minutes.

Monday – Rest

Week six started with a rest day. I love Monday rest days! I spent the morning sorting through the huge pile of academic papers I’d acquired during my PhD. Three hours and a massive pile of papers for the recycling bin later I’d completed some long overdue decluttering. I spent the afternoon drafting out some ideas for a couple of blog posts and an article for a running magazine. Throughout Monday my dodgy right knee felt slightly niggly so I treated it to regular sessions with my icepack.

Tuesday – 20 mins easy

When I woke up on Tuesday it was raining. This pleased me more than it probably should have done – I love running in the rain! By the time I’d got changed into some running gear – I decided to test out my latest running skirt purchase – and reached Four Oaks Estate, the rain had stopped and it felt really oppressive and humid. As it looked like it was going to rain again I spent ages warming-up and stretching – I was desperate for the rain to make an appearance. Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The first half of my run was a struggle, so much for running starting to feel easier. It was humid and I was grumpy. The shorts underneath my running skirt that were supposedly guaranteed to “stay put” were doing the opposite. I was constantly pulling my shorts back down to cover my arse – not easy during a run. The second half of the run felt slightly easier. I’d stopped feeling mardy and had given up worrying about my shorts. The timer on my Garmin reached 20 minutes and I slowed to a walk, five seconds later it started to rain again – typical! [Strava].

After walking back to the Tennis Club, I spent a slightly miserable 20 minutes or so waiting for my friend to return from his bike ride. Although I’d got really warm while I was running, as soon as the rain started I felt quite cold. I regretted letting my friend borrow my waterproof jacket. I was really relieved when I finally escaped the rain – you can’t please some runners!

Wednesday – Rest

If I ignore the three hours I spent gardening in the morning, and my eight mile afternoon stroll around Sutton Park then Wednesday was a really restful rest day. Sorry knee!

Collage 16

Thursday – 30 mins easy

After the success of my recent early Sunday morning runs I was dressed and ready to run relatively early(for me) on Thursday morning. I’d suspected for some time that I was rapidly turning into more of a morning runner and wanted to put my theory to the test. Although the temperature was perfect at 05:30 it was really windy. I hadn’t run in what I call “proper wind” for some time and had forgotten how tiring running directly into the wind can be. Although the first five minutes of the so-called “30 mins easy” run were quite challenging – why do I always struggle when I first start running? – the final 25 minutes were far more enjoyable [Strava].

I made it home and knocked back a glass of strawberry milkshake. Not the ideal post-run drink but it definitely quenched my thirst. Once I’d recovered from my run I was really lazy and headed back to bed for an hour. When I eventually woke up again at 07:30 my 30 minute run felt like it had never happened. Had it all been a bad dream? Luckily I had the Strava stats and smelly running kit as evidence.

Friday – Rest

Another so called rest day filled with an alternative form of strength training and cardio exercise – lawn mowing. It took me well over an hour to mow the lawns at mums. When I finished I felt shattered. On a more serious note I decided that unless my knee settles down, I’m going to have to stop volunteering my gardening services until after the half marathon. My knee was pretty painful after my stint in the garden.

Saturday – Rest

Another rest day on a Saturday and more parkrun envy. I spent the morning doing loads of washing, the vacuuming and some blog related admin. In the afternoon I made the fatal error of starting to watch the Olympics – there were too many sports to watch at once. In the end I decided to opt for a sport I don’t follow the Rugby Sevens. In the evening I met up with some friends for a couple of pints. For once we were sensible and only stopped for a couple.

Sunday – 40-45 mins very easy pace

My alarm woke me at the slightly antisocial time of 05:00. Thirty minutes later I was ready to tackle the most challenging training session in my half marathon training plan so far – a 40 to 45 minute run at a “very easy pace”. I was determined to run for 45 minutes – anything less would have been a failure. No pressure then! Once again the first five minutes or so of the run were challenging – my breathing was all over the place and the pint of water I’d consumed before heading out wasn’t settling very well.

Fortunately, once I settled into my stride I found the rest of the run relatively easy. Once again the wind was a bit of a pain in the arse – luckily I was running into the wind on the downhill sections of my circuit. On the final loop of my circuit I started to wish that I’d got some music or a podcast to listen to. I also made the fatal error of speeding up – so much for maintaining a “very easy pace” [Strava].

So that’s the sixth week of my half marathon training successfully completed. I discovered that I’m definitely a morning runner and was reminded that I need to drink more after each run. My headache after my run on Thursday was really difficult to shift.

Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and is described as the “first peak training week”. Exciting! I’ve somehow got to complete a 20 minute run on tired legs tomorrow, a 30 minute run on Wednesday and a 10 minute run on Friday. On Sunday I have the option of running continuously for between 50 and 55 minutes. I’m definitely going to aim to run for 55 minutes.

Training totals

  • Runs: 18
  • Time: 6 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 61.06 kms

Niggleometer

  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Right knee: 5/10

Do you listen to music while you run? Now that my Sunday runs are getting longer, I think it’s time for me to invest in some decent headphones.

How many miles do you wear your trainers for? I realised that I completed my 200th mile in my trusty Brooks trainers on Sunday. I don’t want to end up with an injury because my trainers have lost their supportiveness.

July review

As I didn’t want to share two blog posts yesterday, my July review is a day late.

July definitely only lasted a week. At least we finally got to experience some hot, summery weather in July. The complaints about the heat did, however, get slightly tedious after a while. Since the beginning of 2016 I’ve been producing monthly summaries of my training. I’ve also shared some of my personal experiences as a running blogger who is spending the summer in Birmingham. Seriously, are PRs and brands actually aware that people and bloggers live north of Watford?

What worked well? What – if there were any – were my running related achievements? What would I do differently given the opportunity? I then like to look ahead to the month ahead.

Let the half marathon training commence

At the start of July I vowed to leave my run-walk-run obsession behind me, and I started following a more conventional half marathon training plan. This morning I completed a 35 minute training run without feeling the need to take any walking breaks. Hopefully by actually following a training plan and by ensuring I run my longer runs at a sensible pace, I’ll finally make it to the start line of a half marathon.

I didn’t complete any races in July and don’t have any races in the calendar for August. Gone are the days it was possible to enter an event in Sutton Park virtually every weekend during the summer. Although I do miss the whole race day experience and the medals, I have enjoyed running on my own at my own pace.

7 July 2016

According to my Strava statistics I managed to complete 13 training runs during July covering a distance of approximately 42 kilometres. More importantly I successfully completed the first five weeks of my beginners half marathon training plan.

Running costs

Once again I failed in my quest to avoid making any unnecessary running related purchases…

At the start of the month I spotted some Salomon running skirts on TK Maxx – three days later my accidental running skirt purchase arrived in the post. Unfortunately, the running skirt is far too short, at some point I’ll get around to listing it on eBay.

Salomon skirt 1I was devastated that my TK Maxx bargain didn’t fit – not such a bargain!

While on the subject of eBay, my second running related purchase was a £5.00 technical running t-shirt. During the recent warmer weather I spent £5.00 on a running vest from TK Maxx and earlier this week I found myself spending £30.00 on another running skirt.

Total running related costs £49.99! Opps!

Blogging experiences

For some reason I completely lost my blogging mojo during July – even writing my series of half marathon training review posts felt like a chore. I now have even more respect than I did before for bloggers who produce several interesting posts a week! Seriously, how do you find the time?

I received several quite random emails and still need to respond to a few of the more interesting proposals. I deleted several emails with the words “beach body ready” in the subject line. No thanks! I was also contacted by several health and fitness bloggers asking if I would be willing to host guest posts on my blog. Although the idea of hosting guest posts sounds great in theory – I’m aware that my blog posts are pretty repetitive at the moment – I’m just not sure I want to fill my blog with other people’s content. You clearly can’t please some people!

Writing this post has reminded me that I need to finish writing a couple of product review posts. Has anyone seen my camera?

Looking forward to August

So far my training for the Great Birmingham Run has been going well *touches wood*. My left foot and right knee both appear to be coping with the current level of training, it will be interesting to see what happens when my weekly mileage starts to increase. At this stage I’m feeling positive.

I’m really looking forward to completing the next four weeks of my training plan, and I’ll definitely continue to write weekly training updates during August. As I don’t have any races planned until September, I’d love to make it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun.

Finally, I’m determined to not give into the temptation of TK Maxx et al during August. I’ll need to replace my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers before the Great Birmingham Run so I’ll need to save some money!

Bloggers, have you received any really random press releases recently? I declined the offer of featuring a press release on the World Pole Sports Championships 2016.

Why are trainers getting so expensive? The RRP of a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers is £114.99. I can see why people might think running is too expensive for them.