Great Birmingham Run training week 4

I’ve just realised that I’ve now successfully completed 25 per cent of my 16-week beginners’ half marathon training plan. Time flies when I’m having fun. I’m feeling quite pleased with myself as I’ve completed all of my training runs and haven’t had the urge to skip a run, yet. I’ve also been quite good at warming up before and cooling down after my runs, this is pretty unusual behaviour for me.

I haven’t been finding my training runs during week four as easy as I’d hoped. After struggling to run last week after giving blood, England suddenly experienced an unusual weather phenomenon otherwise known as summer. It was quite warm at times!

Collage 9

Monday – 10 mins taken very easy

I was woken by a combination of my neighbours shouting and the sun on Monday morning. As I couldn’t get back to sleep, I got changed into some running gear, headed downstairs and worked through the personal exercise program my physio gave me last year. Unfortunately, my right knee felt quite painful when I attempted certain exercises – a reminder to persevere with my knee and arse strengthening exercises. I then headed out and completed my first back-to-back session – “10 mins taken very easy”. For once the 10 minutes did feel easy and I was barely out of breath when I’d finished running [Strava].

At lunchtime I headed down to London to meet up with a friend. I reached Euston at 13:30 and 30 minutes later found myself sitting inside a pub drinking chilled Crabbie’s. As London was warm and the pub was quite cool we decided to have a second drink. I then somehow managed to convince my friend to walk the short distance from the pub to Lululemon. Although I loved the anti-stink running tops and vests, I couldn’t quite justify spending £££££ on a running top. In the evening I somehow managed to work my way through Calamari Fritti, Penne Amatriciana and profiteroles. And I wonder why I’ve put on weight recently. I then made the fatal error of heading back to the pub for a couple of pints. Once again the room was spinning slightly when I made it to bed.

Tuesday – Rest

The heat and my hangover were not a winning combination – I was really relieved Tuesday was a rest day! Drinking Crabbie’s, white wine, red wine and beer when I suspect I was dehydrated after my morning run wasn’t the smartest decision I’ve ever made. Thankfully the train back up to Birmingham had very effective air-conditioning and I felt slightly better when I reached New Street. The train journey from Birmingham to Four Oaks wasn’t quite so enjoyable – the train was like a sauna on wheels – and I arrived back home feeling a little peaky. Needless to say the rest of Tuesday was a bit of a write off.

Wednesday – Rest

Although I love the sun and warmer weather, I was quite pleased that my training plan told me to take another rest day. I spent the morning job hunting and the afternoon reading through one of the research papers I’d written that my PhD supervisor had edited for me. My academic writing is apparently as dodgy as my blog writing. All in all a successful rest day.

Thursday – 20 mins steady

After spending the morning gardening, I popped into Sutton Coldfield to buy my soon to be six year old niece Jessica a birthday present. I’m rubbish at buying presents for children so played it safe and bought my niece a summery dress from Next. I then somehow found myself hunting through the Activewear sale section in TK Maxx. My hunt was successful and I spotted a long running vest for £5 – somewhat cheaper than the running vests in Lululemon.

I returned from Sutton, got changed into some running gear and headed to Four Oaks Estate for my “20 mins steady” run. It was quite warm and sunny and I wanted to run in the shade, Four Oaks Estate is perfect for sun avoidance. For some reason I found the 20 minute run challenging and really seemed to struggle mentally. I still have no idea how I managed to overcome the “just bloody walk Emma” demons [Strava].

Collage 10

The highlight of the run was finding a pound coin just as I finished running. Perhaps it was my reward for not walking. The lowlight was getting heckled by some men who were sitting eating their lunch in a white van. I know I looked crap but thanks for the needless heckling guys. Hopefully my expletive-filled response didn’t shock you too much…

Friday – Rest

I spent the morning trying to track down some academic papers I’ll need for a meeting next week. I was reminded that I need to sort through all of the academic papers and reports I printed out but never actually read. I also found some books I thought I’d already returned to my PhD supervisor last year. Sorry Geoff!

I spent the afternoon at my niece Jessica’s sixth birthday party at the National Forest Adventure Farm in Tatenhill. Although some of the slides in the indoor play barn looked really scary, I was gutted that I was slightly too tall (and old) to have a go. As it was really stuffy inside the indoor play barn I decided to explore the numerous outdoor play and farm areas. Apparently dinosaurs aren’t actually extinct. Although it was warm the children seemed to have a great time. A great start to their summer holiday.

Saturday – Rest

Another rest day and another dose of Saturday morning parkrun envy. Although I loved reading about personal bests and post-parkrun tea and cakes – I really miss running with other people. While most sensible runners were making the most of the cooler morning, I spent the morning tackling the washing mountain, vacuuming and cleaning. Exciting times! I spent the afternoon watching the cricket and athletics, and the evening gardening. A dull but restful rest day!

Sunday – 30 mins jog

I thought that I’d rather ambitiously set my alarm for 06:00, however, the sun very kindly woke me up at 05:30. I was dressed and sort of ready to run 15 minutes later. The “30 mins jog” was challenging. I was half asleep for the first 10 minutes, struggled for the second 10 minutes and only managed to complete the final 10 minutes by running down a steep hill. Sorry knee! I must remember to drink more before running – my mouth felt like the Sahara Desert throughout the run. I must also try to avoid running across loose metal drain covers. I suspect the loud bang I somehow managed to produce may have woken up quite a few of the residents of Streetly Crescent – sorry! At least I got to go back to bed for a couple of hours after my run [Strava].

Collage 11

So that’s the fourth week of my half marathon training plan successfully completed. Once again I was reminded that I’m not that great at running when it’s humid. Next week’s training schedule contains a couple of 20 minute runs and a 35 min run on Sunday. Looking ahead further I’ll finally be running four times a week from week 7 onwards. Hopefully I’ll finally start to feel like I’m actually training for a half marathon.

Training totals

  • Runs: 12
  • Time: 3 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 32.72 kms

Niggleometer

  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right knee: 4/10

Are you a morning, lunchtime or evening runner? I’m still not convinced that I’m a morning runner, I seem to struggle when I’m tired and half asleep.

Have you bought any bargainous running gear recently? Although I love the running gear in Lululemon, I suspect that I’ll always shop in TK Maxx and eBay.

Great Birmingham Run training week 3

After completing weeks one and two of my beginner’s half marathon training plan, I was ready to progress from the ‘getting started’ to the ‘building’ phase of my half marathon training. After studying the contents of weeks three and four of my training plan, I can’t see much difference between the first two phases of training. I guess I’ll just have to continue to trust the plan!

I’m pleased to report that there are only another 14 weeks of training and blog updates to go. This is great news as I’m not really enjoying writing blog posts at the moment. I’ve found writing these weekly training reviews harder than the actual training. Hopefully this will change if and when my enthusiasm for blogging returns. If it doesn’t return then I’ve no idea what I’ll do.

Collage 6

Monday – Rest

On Monday morning I travelled into Birmingham as I’d finally been brave enough to make an appointment to give blood. I arrived an hour before my appointment as I wanted to do some wedding outfit shopping before giving blood. I popped into several clothes shops and failed to find anything I’d actually want to wear. I’ve reached the stage where I feel too old for Topshop et al but too young for the shops mum shops at. After my shopping fail I was relieved when I passed the haemoglobin test and successfully completed my 16th blood donation. An hour after my donation I was back at home drinking tea. It will be interesting to find out how my blood gets used.

Tuesday – 15 mins jog

I’ve now worked out how to run at a slower and far more sensible pace. After giving blood on Monday, my ’15 mins jog’ on Tuesday morning was a monumental struggle. I felt really out of breath and wanted to walk after less than 10 minutes, and ended up having to distract myself by playing the animal alphabet game. I felt so rough immediately after my run I had to go back to bed for an hour. Perhaps I’d got some sort of bug. I then read this article and realised that my running was slower because I’d given blood [Strava].

I predicted that my next training run on Thursday would feel less challenging. I spent the rest of the day helping mum sort her mobile phone saga, job hunting and sleeping. If sleeping was an Olympic sport I would have definitely won a gold medal on Tuesday!

Wednesday – Rest

Another rest day and more time to recover from donating blood, phew! I know that giving blood is an amazing thing to do, but I think that I will hold off donating again until after my half marathon. I spent the morning and afternoon job hunting, and then headed across Birmingham to watch my friend play tennis for the first team against Edgbaston Priory. The Edgbaston Priory Club is a seriously posh private members’ club and I am sure costs a fortune to be a member. I looked online and couldn’t see any prices, never a good sign. While my friend and his partner warmed up, I had a quick look at some of the facilities while I had the opportunity.Collage 7

After watching my friend and his partner lose their first doubles match, I started to feel cold so headed inside in search of some warmth. So much for a warm July evening, even the players looked cold. I ended up spending the remainder of the evening drinking San Miguel in the Clubhouse bar and people watching. Watching people swimming in the outdoor pool in the rain made me want to go swimming again, it has been a couple of months.

Thursday – 10 mins jog

After spending the morning job hunting, I was ready to attempt a 10 minute jog. I got changed into some running gear and grabbed a lift with my friend to the tennis club. The plan was for me to complete my run while my friend went for a short bike ride in Sutton Park. I completed my warm-up routine and set off at what I thought was a sensible pace. The first five minutes or so of the run were challenging, the final five minutes were a nightmare. I was willing the timer on my Garmin to reach 10 minutes, my legs felt like lumps of lead, pathetic! [Strava].

Collage 8After walking back to the tennis club, I spent an entertaining ten minutes trying to work out how to use the timer function on the camera on my mobile phone to take some action shots. I figured out that there was nobody around to witness me prancing around like a muppet. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite work out the art of taking a decent action shot. I ended up taking dozens of photos of trees, of my legs, of my stomach and close-ups of my face. In the end I resorted to taking some selfies of me pretending to run. I clearly need some lessons in mobile phone photography! All the arsing about made me forget about my rubbish run.

Friday – Rest

Mum picked me up at 10:00 as I’d volunteered to cut the lawns at home for her, again. Although the lawnmower was really noisy when I eventually managed to get it working, I decided to risk using it. 45 minutes and a small mountain of grass later the lawns looked slightly better. Mum dropped me home, I had an early lunch and then spent the rest of Friday afternoon working on a couple of job applications. I spent the evening watching the Monaco Diamond League athletics. A successful rest day.

Saturday – Rest

Another rest day and another dose of Saturday morning parkrun envy. As the weather was crap, I spent the morning sorting out some stuff for the charity shop and writing up a load of eBay listings. Another really thrilling Saturday morning! In the afternoon I spent a couple of hours working on my discharge-rich paper before having a late afternoon power nap. Energy levels restored, I had a shower, got changed into some slightly smarter gear and walked the short distance to the local pub. I proceeded to spend the evening drinking beer with some friends I’ve known since primary school. Although it was a great evening, the room was definitely spinning when I collapsed on top of my bed…

Sunday – 20 mins jog

For some reason I’d set my alarm for 06:30 – fortunately I felt fine when my alarm woke me up. I got out of bed and changed into my running gear before I could change my mind about heading out for a run. I knocked back some orange nuun, did some stretches and headed out the door. I decided to complete the route I usually use for my 20 minute training runs in reverse. For some reason this totally messed with my mind and I struggled throughout the majority of the run. Although it was humid and I felt quite tired, I was surprised that I struggled as much as I did. So much for getting faster! [Strava].

So that’s the third week of my half marathon training plan successfully negotiated. I was reminded that I’m rubbish at running after giving blood, when it’s humid and when I’ve got a hangover. Perhaps I should write a blog post full of excuses for runners. I’ve just checked next week’s training schedule – I’ll be completing my first ‘back-to-back’ session tomorrow morning. The duration of my Sunday run finally increases from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Bring it on!

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 2 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 22.65 kms

Niggleometer

  •  Left foot: 2/10
  • Right knee: 4/10

Are you a blood donor? If so, how long does it take for your running to return to normal after you’ve given blood?

Do you have any tips for taking decent ‘action’ photos and running selfies? I definitely need all the help I can get!

Great Birmingham Run training week 2

Thanks for all of the really positive comments on my first Great Birmingham Run training update blog. It’s good to know that I’m not the only nosey blog reader out there!

After successfully completing week one of my beginner’s half marathon training plan, I was hoping for more of the same during the second week. My left foot and right knee both appear to be coping well with only three runs a week. I just need to remember to cool-down after each run, even the really short runs.

There are now only another 15 weeks of training and blog updates to go! At some stage I’ll share my goals for the half marathon. As I said last week, please feel free to close the page now if you find training review blog posts boring.

Collage 3

Monday – Rest

I spent Monday morning responding to job application related emails and setting myself a timetable and targets for the week. If I don’t set myself daily and weekly targets I struggle to make the best use of my time. Job hunting does get very demoralising at times, without targets I find it difficult to keep myself motivated. By lunchtime I needed a break from my computer desk so I headed for a walk around Four Oaks.

Following a discussion with my academic mentor in the afternoon, I finally accepted that I don’t have enough teaching and writing experience to land myself a job in academia. Although I’ll continue to work on my paper on discharge-rich rivers during the weekends, my focus during Monday to Friday will now be job hunting. I spent the afternoon drafting out yet another version of my CV.

Tuesday – 10 mins jog

When I first studied my training plan, I noticed the progression from a “10 mins easy jog” to a “10 mins jog”. I’ve previously only ever trained at two speeds – fast and not quite so fast. What is jogging? When does a jog become a run? Is there actually a difference between jogging and running? I simply assumed that my training runs during week two should ideally be at a slightly faster pace than they were during the first week. I’m quite impatient and wanted to see immediate progress. I was, however, quite concerned that I would be unable to match the pace of last Mondays “10 mins running like a muppet” training run. I was right to be concerned. Although I felt great at the start of my early (for me) morning “10 mins jog” on Tuesday, it was quite windy and I quickly started to struggle. Although I set out at a sensible pace, I struggled to maintain the pace and found myself speeding up. I need to learn how to slow down. [Strava].

Mum picked me up at 11:15 and we drove across to the local pick-your-own fields at Manor Farm Fruits in Hints. When we arrived we were warned that although there were loads of strawberries, the supply of raspberries was quite limited. My height was definitely an advantage, and it only took 30 minutes to find enough ripe raspberries to fill our containers. I’m hoping that fruit picking counts as a type of cross training..?

Collage 4

We then headed across to the cafe at Packington Moor Farm for an early lunch. I’m clearly a rubbish blogger because I didn’t take an arty photo of my turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing sandwich. By the time I thought about taking a photo my plate was empty. I spent the afternoon and early evening completing yet another lengthy application form. A mixed Tuesday.

Wednesday – Rest

Another rest day and another morning and early afternoon spent sitting on my arse staring at a computer screen. After seven hours I could feel myself getting a headache, I needed a break from my computer. I headed out for a short walk in Sutton Park, six miles later the headache had gone and my stress levels had reduced. For the millionth time since I started job hunting, I was reminded of the importance of taking breaks and exercising regularly. I was also reminded that I need to take more care of my left foot, walking six miles in a pair of flat shoes wasn’t very smart.

Thursday – 15 mins jog

Luckily I got away with wearing flat shoes, and my left foot was pain free when I walked to the bathroom on Thursday morning. After spending a few hours completing some dull admin tasks, I was ready for some exercise. For possibly the first time ever I was pleased that my training plan was telling me to run rather than to rest. I got changed and managed to convince my friend to drive me and my camera to Four Oaks Estate. Although I’m more than happy running on my own, I haven’t quite mastered the art of taking a decent running selfie. I also wanted to get some video footage of me running because I have a feeling that running style is terrible.

After I’d completed my warm-up routine and some stretches, I was ready for session in front of the camera. After my friend had reluctantly taken a couple of ‘action’ photos, I was ready to attempt a “15 mins jog”. I set off at a reasonable pace and found the first ten minutes of the run easy. Unfortunately, the final five minutes didn’t feel quite as easy – I’d somehow managed to select a route that ended with me running up a steepish hill. The Great Birmingham Run course appears to incorporate every hill in the central area of Birmingham, so I’m sure that these undulating training runs will be valuable [Strava].

Friday – Rest

With the exception of a short lunchtime walk, I actually followed the training plan and did no exercise. I then spent the evening feeling guilty.

Saturday – Rest

Another rest day on a Saturday and more slightly childish parkrun envy. Earlier in the week I worked out that it has taken me four years to complete the not so grand total of 14 parkruns. I was aiming to complete 10 parkruns this year – only another eight to go. I’m rapidly running out of time! Anyway, back to my Saturday… I spent the morning doing three loads of washing, the vacuuming and some blog admin while watching the European Athletics. Exciting stuff! In the afternoon I decided to attempt a 30-minute “stair session”. My stair session was simple – 30 minutes of continuously walking up and down the stairs at home. It sounds quite easy, but judging by how sweaty I was at the end of the 30 minutes it gave me quite a good workout. In the evening I met up with my friend for our traditional Saturday night beer drinking and putting the world to rights session.

Sunday – 15-20 mins jog

For some reason I really struggled to sleep and was wide awake at 01:30, 03:30 and 05:00. Not ideal when I had my alarm set for 07:00. My alarm went off and I somehow found myself outside running 20 minutes later. The training plan gave me the option of jogging for “15-20 mins” I decided to aim for 20 minutes. Although I successfully completed the training session, I felt pretty crap throughout most of the 20 minutes. It was really windy, my short shorts kept riding up and annoying me, it was humid, the constant undulations irritated the hell out of me and I felt tired. When I got home and looked at my run from last Sunday, it was clear that I’d set off far too quickly and had paid the price, again [Strava].

Collage 5

After a lengthy post-run nap, shower and some breakfast I felt slightly more human. I walked the short distance to mum’s house, had some lunch and then settled on the settee with the cat to watch the tennis. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen Andy Murray play as consistently well as he did throughout the three sets. Awesome! I then watched Heather Watson and Henri Kontinen win the mixed doubles – more awesomeness.

That’s the second week of my half marathon training plan successfully completed. I’ve just looked at the schedule for next week and it looks pretty similar. I’m hopefully giving blood today (Monday) so suspect that Tuesday’s 15 minute jog really will be a jog.

Training totals

  • Runs: 6
  • Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Distance: 15.08 kms

 Niggleometer

  •  Left foot: 2/10
  • Right knee: 4/10

Do you struggle to run when it’s really humid? Hopefully my bad run on Sunday was a result of the humidity and my lack of sleep.

Do you prefer flat or hilly runs? Although I complain about hills, I do feel really satisfied when I’ve made it to the top of a big hill without taking a sneaky walking break.

Great Birmingham Run training week 1

My 16-week beginner’s training plan for the Birmingham Great Run started last Monday.  Following the relative success of my recent ‘my week in running’ post, I’ve decided to write a series of weekly – or fortnightly when I forget to blog – updates in the lead up to my target event of 2016. As I’ve said before, please close the page now if you find training review blog posts boring. I promise that I won’t get offended. Personally, I enjoy reading about other people’s training and lives. I guess I’m nosey.

Although my running has been consistent recently, after some discussion with several more experienced runners, I decided to opt for a beginner’s training plan. When it comes to training for and running slightly longer distances I am a beginner. I’m also quite very injury prone. Hopefully my knee and foot will cope with a slightly less demanding training plan.

The first week of the training plan is described as ‘getting started’. Although I’m good at starting training plans, I don’t think I’ve ever managed to complete a training plan. I usually attempt to increase my mileage too quickly, get injured and fail to make the start line. This time I’ve actually built up a bit of a base and feel ready to go.

Monday – 10 mins easy jog

Unusually, the training plan I’ve selected started with a run rather than a rest day. After spending the morning getting increasingly irritated by some of the rubbish being spouted on social media, I decided to head to the leafy surroundings of the Four Oaks Estate for my first run. I must have been feeling quite keen because once I’d completed my warm-up the “10 mins easy jog” turned into “10 mins running like a muppet” [Strava].

Collage 1

Rather worryingly I felt pretty knackered after running for 10 minutes at 5:25/km pace, my sub-25 minute 5k target remains a distant dream. On Thursday I will make sure that I slow down, I don’t want to injure myself in week 1! In the evening I treated myself to fish and chips in front of the England game.

Tuesday – Rest

I’m pretty good at resting on rest days and Tuesday was no exception. I spent the morning job hunting and feeling increasingly demoralised when I realised how many hydrology jobs rely on EU funding. I spent the afternoon working on my latest paper which will hopefully be good enough to be published. During a break from writing about effluent-dominated rivers I read this really interesting article – Kilian Jornet: how to run further than you’ve ever run before. By the time I realised that I hadn’t actually been outside it was time for Holby City. A successful rest day!

Wednesday – Rest

When I first studied my training plan, I was quite surprised to that the first week was telling me to take two consecutive rest days, twice. As my foot and knee tend to seize up if I don’t exercise regularly, I was determined to actually get off my arse on Wednesday! I’ve noticed that when I’m using my computer I always sit with my legs crossed – not ideal with my slightly wonky hip. I spent the morning job hunting, the afternoon completing application forms and then decided it was time for a break from my computer. As it had finally stopped raining I decided to head out for a walk. I eventually ended up walking for over an hour and only stopped because my left foot was feeling quite tender. I’ll be monitoring my left foot closely!

Thursday – 10 mins easy jog

My left foot felt fine so I decided to complete my second run in the morning. By the time I’d got dressed, had a cup of tea, found my running watch and generally farted around it was almost 9:00. Once I’d worked my way through my warm-up routine I was ready for another attempt at completing a “10 mins easy jog”. Although I set out at a slightly more sensible pace, I soon found myself speeding up as I ran past a group of workmen.  Another failed attempt at an easy jog, another reminder of how unfit I am at the moment! [Strava].

Collage 2

Mum picked me up at 11:00 and we drove the short distance to Blackroot Pool in Sutton Park. When we arrived in the park I was handed half a bag of sliced white bread – apparently although I’m 37, I’m not too old to feed the ducks. I didn’t like to remind mum that white bread isn’t very healthy for ducks. Once we’d finished feeding the ducks and two very tame swans, we set off on a short walk. Short walk complete, it was time for some lunch and lawn mowing back at mums. Does lawn mowing count as a form of cardio exercise or cross training? I hope so as it took over an hour.

Friday – Rest

I spent Friday morning and early afternoon completing the longest online application form I’ve ever encountered (26 pages). Job hunting does get very tedious at times. Once I started to get a numb bum, I decided I’d spent enough time sitting down for one day. I changed into some gym gear and completed most of Oiselle’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ core routine.  Although I’m still unable to complete some of the exercises, I’m starting to feel the benefits of the core routine when I’m running. I spent an hour or so working on my discharge rich paper and then watched Wales beat Belgium. Congratulations Wales!

Saturday – Rest

Another rest day but this time with the added bonus of Saturday morning parkrun envy. I spent the morning catching up on some dull admin tasks I’d been putting off for ages – the lowlight was spending over an hour on the phone ordering a replacement credit card. Hopefully I won’t have to phone my bank for another two years. The highlight was finding a £10 note during my afternoon needing to get out of the house walk. There was no one around so I did what most people would have done – I kept it. I spent the evening drinking beer with a couple of friends from school.

Sunday – Jog/walk 20 mins

When I saw that the training plan gave me the option of either jogging or walking for 20 minutes, I decided to opt for the more challenging “jog” option. I woke up at 06:30 and was outside warming-up 30 less than minutes later. I love Sunday mornings, the pavements are usually free from scary dogs and people. The 20 minutes felt easy and the only minor irritation was having to wait a couple of seconds to cross the main road [Strava].

All in all a successful first week of half marathon training. Only another 15 weeks to go.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Distance: 7.01 kms

Niggleometer

  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right knee: 2/10

Do you find training reviews interesting? Should I just stick to the occasional training update in my monthly review posts?

Have you encountered any scary dogs recently? I seem to keep meeting the same scary dog when I’m out running. It’s getting to the stage that I’m slightly paranoid the owner of the dog thinks I’m doing it on purpose.

June review

So much for flaming June! Will the weather improve now that it’s July? I really do hope so. Although I do love running in the rain, drying the one pair of trainers I own that don’t cause niggles does get tedious. Anyway, enough complaining. Since the start of the year I’ve been producing monthly summaries of my training. I’ve also shared some of my personal experiences as a small and not very influential (Anonymous PR, 2016) running blogger.

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

A fun run, a DNS and a DNF

At the start of June I got to pretend I was an elite runner in the Great Midlands Fun Run. I had a great race and improved my 2015 time by almost 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to the start line of the Aldridge 10k. My friend got drunk the night before the race and forgot that he’d promised to drive me to the race. By the time I managed to contact my friend it was too late to make alternative travel arrangements. I was slightly irritated by my ‘Did not start’ (DNS) because for once the weather and the course were both perfect.

On Saturday evening it was my turn to have far too much to drink. Although I made it to the start of the Race for Life in 10k on Sunday morning, I didn’t make it to the finish and recorded my first ever ‘Did not finish’ (DNF). I only managed to run for 10 minutes before I had to stop. It wasn’t pretty and made me question my commitment to running. I quickly reminded myself that I’m not a professional runner and that the occasional drinking session isn’t going to slow my running down.

June

According to my Strava statistics #StravaWanker, I completed 12 runs in June covering an approximate distance of 57 kilometres. Hopefully by consistently running 3-4 times a week I’ve built a good base for the start of my autumn half marathon training.

Running costs

If I ignore the money I wasted on my DNS and DNF, June was a cheap month. As I’m still aiming for a sub-60 minute 10k I entered the Lichfield 10k (£17) which takes place in September. I travel by train to get to Lichfield so I don’t have to rely on unreliable people.

Blogging experiences

After a rubbish May, June was far more positive. I’ve finally learnt to ration my time on social media. I’ve also stopped comparing myself to the majority of the London-based blogging community. Although I spend 50 per cent of my time in London, I must be the only running blogger not taking part in the upcoming Vitality British 10k London Run. It would have been a great sub-60 minute 10k opportunity.

When I started blogging I made a promise to myself to ‘keep it real’. Like 99 per cent of runners I don’t look very photogenic when I’m running. If by sharing my sweaty, beetroot-faced running photos I’ve ‘ruined my online image’ (Anonymous PR, 2016) and attracted the occasional online troll then so be it.IMG_2271A rather unflattering pre-Great Midlands Fun Run train selfie.

Looking forward to July

I’m really looking forward to making progress with my half marathon training during July. I’ve decided to write weekly training updates, the first enthralling instalment in the 16-week series will be published on Monday. Although I now don’t have any races until September, I’d love to make it to my local parkrun…

The first four weeks of my half marathon training plan don’t look too challenging so I want to continue to combine running 3-4 times a week with cross training. I’m determined to turn my occasional half-hearted attempts at yoga into a regular yoga habit. Finally, I want to continue to improve my diet and eating habits. During June i gradually reduced my Diet Coke intake, this month I want to purchase my last ever can.

Here’s to a more summery July!

Do you think that I should continue to share my unflattering running photos?

Have you ever been on the receiving end of negative comments about how you look? If so how did you deal with the comments?

Rants and raves #6

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing a quite severe dose of race envy. Last weekend I should have been beating my mile PB at the City of London Mile. Unfortunately, I was nursing a slight niggle at home in Four Oaks. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated running blogs are available**

I’m hoping that I’ll feel a bit better after writing this post.

Rave: rain

The weather has been pretty extreme recently. Floods, floods and more floods. I’ve now got used to running in torrential rain, hail, thunder and lightning. Although I’ve almost overcome my fear of lightning, I still nearly had a panic attack when the lights flickered on and off during a recent thunderstorm. I also do my best to avoid running in a thunderstorm.photo (2)This is my idea of running route perfection.

Although I’m not so keen on running in thunderstorms, I do love running in the rain. The rain helps to keep me cool while I’m running; I need all of the help that I can get to keep cool when it’s warm. The rain also keeps the pavements free from dog walkers, cyclists and hecklers. I love having the pavements to myself. Finally, nothing beats splashing through the middle of a huge puddle.

Rant: asthma

Although I will never use my asthma as an excuse for a rubbish run, I do seem suffer more during the summer. I’ve been following the advice on Asthma UK’s website, and have got quite good at remembering to carry my blue inhaler with me when I run. I love this weather infographic:

weather-infographic Source

Although my asthma can be a PITA and is definitely linked to pollen levels, it doesn’t appear to be having too much of an impact on my running. I’m just pleased that I don’t seem to suffer from hay fever like the rest of my family.

Rave: spending time with my family

Although being unemployed sucks and definitely deserves a dedicated blog post there are some benefits. I’m not just talking about being able to run when it’s quieter during the day! After not having much time for my family during my 20s and early 30s, I’m now making the most of my free time during the week. I’ve recently been making a lot more effort to spend time with my parents and their partners. Some of the status updates on Facebook on Mother’s Day and on Sunday made me aware that they won’t be around forever. I’m currently trying to convince mother and my stepfather to come and watch me run the Shenstone Fun Run. The promise of a pub lunch afterwards will hopefully tempt them!

Rant: intermittent niggles

I think that my right knee is playing games with me. On Friday morning it was completely pain free, on Saturday it was sore enough to make me reach for my ice pack. Perhaps my knee doesn’t like parkrun? Perhaps, like its owner, it likes a lie in on a Saturday? What I do know is that for some reason my right knee always seems to feel niggly on a Saturday morning. My left foot has also been feeling slightly dodgy recently. I’m 100% certain that I don’t have another stress fracture, and have no idea what is causing the sudden phantom foot pain. I’m praying that I don’t end up spending another summer sitting on the injury bench!

Rave: Jasyoga

As I’m an injury-prone, wonky type of runner, I’ve been making more of an effort to cool-down, relax and to stretch after each run.photoFinally learning how to relax after a run.

To help with my new, slightly more sensible approach to running, I also recently subscribed to the videos on the Jasyoga UK website. Jasyoga is described as “a revolutionary approach to yoga for athletes.” I can honestly say that the £3.50(ish)/month subscription has been worth every penny. I never thought that I would find myself hitting reset and enjoying yoga as much. Yoga will form an important component of my half marathon training plan. I can’t remember who recommended the Jasyoga videos to me. Thank-you!

Rant: Bounts

I joined Bounts last year and after a couple of months paid £15 for a Premium+ account for a year. My theory was that I did enough exercise to justify upgrading from a free account to a Premium+. Although the Bounts website was quite basic, I never had too many issues accessing my account. In January, the Bounts app was featured on Money Saving Expert. Since then, the site has been virtually unusable on a far too regular basis. Some days it’s impossible to access my account, other days I can access my account but not the Reward Wheel or the shop. After saving up my points for over a year (I was hoping to exchange my points for a gift card) I’m now finding it difficult to redeem my points. The gift card I want has been out of stock for months. I won’t be renewing my Premium+ membership, there are now better running reward websites.

Rave: Running Heroes

Although I personally think that Bounts is hit-and-miss, I do love another similar running rewards website – Running Heroes. I’m starting to get slightly addicted to the challenges the team behind the Running Heroes website organise. Although because I’m a slightly lazy runner, I’m yet to successfully complete a challenge, I know of runners who have managed to run consistently, complete the challenges and win race gear, race entries and other awesome prizes. Fortunately for me the Running Heroes website also allows me to collect points every time I run. I currently have 1858 points waiting to be exchanged for a range of rewards. For example, I could redeem 300 points for a 12-month subscription to Women’s Running magazine at a reduced rate of £19.99 (according to the Women’s Running website the standard annual subscription cost is £29.97).

If you haven’t already registered my personal referral link is https://uk.runningheroes.com/?r=1&code=g9et (we both get 25 points).

If you’ve reached the end of my latest rather random selection of rants and raves, I’m impressed. Apologies for the very random blog, hopefully my next post will actually feature some running.

Race Report: Great Midlands Fun Run

Some mornings I feel amazing when I wake up. The morning of this year’s Great Midlands Fun Run wasn’t one of those mornings. My stomach felt iffy, I had a headache and felt thirsty. I clearly hadn’t drunk enough water on Saturday.

I ate some breakfast, knocked back a couple of glasses of water and started to feel slightly more alive. I had a shower, applied some P20 sun protection, pinned my race bib onto my club vest, got dressed, had a successful session on the toilet and had another drink.

Runner number 0001 was finally ready to go. Sort of.

A short train journey later I found myself following dozens of runners towards the start area of the race. The sun hadn’t made an appearance and I actually felt quite cold waiting to start. As I waited in the start area I realised that I really, really needed a wee. This left me with a bit of a dilemma. In the end I decided that I could hang on until I reached the toilets in Sutton Park. I decided that I would pretend I didn’t need a wee, i also decided to avoid the first couple of water stations.

IMG_2273Pleased to discover that the Met Office had got the weather forecast wrong again! 

IMG_2277Walking away from the portaloos towards the start area. A decision I would later regret.

IMG_2279My “I really need a wee” face!

The race started and it took me a couple of minutes to cross the start line. The first mile was really congested, it was a game of dodge the walkers who had started right at the front. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a fun run and not a race.

Although the first couple of miles felt great, I still really needed a wee. When I reached Sutton Park I discovered that there were no toilets. I seriously contemplated peeing as I ran. These thoughts kept me distracted as I ran towards the Jamboree Stone and then the halfway point near Keepers Pool.

I ran past Keepers Pool and promised myself that I could stop for a wee if I made it to 5 miles without walking. I ran through yet another drinks station and spotted the 5 miles marker in the distance. Unfortunately, the sunny weather meant that this area of Sutton Park was heaving with spectators. There was nowhere to hide so I carried on running.course-mapCourse Map – nowhere to have a sneaky wee!

With less than a parkrun to go I walked for the first time. At this stage the sun had made an appearance and I was starting to feel quite warm. I regretted not drinking and I regretted wearing a t-shirt under my club vest. I told myself to “HTFU” and started to run again.

I passed the 6 mile marker in just over an hour and found myself at the bottom of my running nemesis; Cardiac Hill. I slowed to a walk; yet again I’d allowed Cardiac Hill to beat me. I “power” walked my way up the hill and started to run again when I spotted someone I knew. I took on water for the first time at the drinks station at Four Oaks Gate. I didn’t wet myself.

I reached 7 miles and spotted my friend with his camera. For some reason I decided that with less than 1.5 miles to go, I needed to ditch my t-shirt and running belt. I stripped off in the middle of Four Oaks. Sometimes I don’t understand how my mind works.

GMFR 1I was clearly really, really pleased to see a friendly face! 

T-shirt ditched and cap forgotten I told myself to enjoy the final mile or so of the race. No one was forcing me to run! I ran past my old primary school, the fire station and the police station. I ran past the crowds of people who were enjoying a pint in the sunshine. Sensible people!

As I approached the steep(ish) downhill into the finish area I was aware that my knee was getting painful, I slowed down.

I crossed the line in 85:32, almost 30 minutes faster than last year…

GMFR

I collected my medal, posed for a photograph and was handed a bottle of water. I must have looked warm as I was hosed down by one of the fire-fighters in the finish area. Thanks!

I had one of the most satisfying wees ever in a disgusting portaloo. The portaloos at the start area of the London Marathon were less fragrant.

Although (thanks to my weak bladder) my 14th Great Midlands Fun Run was uncomfortable at times, I’ll hopefully be back again next year. My 15th Great Midlands Fun Run, however, will definitely be my last. I’m getting too old for the hills.

Registration for the 2017 Great Midlands Fun Run opens on Saturday 28th January 2017.

Race Ratings:

  • Cost: 6/10
  • Course: 8/10
  • Medal: 8/10
  • Goody Bag: n/a