Rants and raves #25

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after the snowy weather meant that the 7 Pools Run was postponed. As a result, I’m feeling a little frustrated. I’m also a little grumpy because I have a feeling that the weather will make my journey back to Wallingford more challenging (and longer!) than normal. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other far less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Running in Wallingford

After spending a couple of months living (sort of) and working in Wallingford, I’m starting to appreciate the town a little bit more. Wallingford is small and has a ridiculous number of pubs, but the majority of people I’ve met are incredibly friendly.

I’ve already mentioned Run Wallingford. I’m now thinking about trying out one of Wallingford Triathlon Club’s coached Thursday evening running sessions. I bumped into them last month and was invited to join them, I just hope that they realise I’m never going to do a triathlon!

Rant: Public transport, again

On Friday, thanks to the flexitime system at work, I left the office at 15:00, and started the journey from Wallingford to Four Oaks. The journey was going well until a woman ignored several other empty seats and sat next to me. I’ve already complained about #manspreaders on public transport, this lady managed to outdo them all. Luckily, she got off at Leamington Spa, as I was starting to feel quite claustrophobic squashed into a corner.

The train reached Birmingham, and before everyone had got off, people started to barge their way onto the train. Awesome, I hate people who do this. I navigated my way to Platform 8, and discovered that the train to Lichfield was running 10 minutes late, again. The train arrived, people got off and a huge number of people – it was Friday rush-hour – tried to get on. I spotted a seat with a bag on it and politely asked the owner of the bag if she could move the bag. I was so taken aback when she said “no” I decided to sit on her precious bag.

I wrote a quick tweet about ‘bag lady’ – apologies for the appalling grammar, but I was aware that she was fuming, and shared it. Unfortunately, my phone died, so I wasn’t able to see all the likes and comments.


Thanks for all of the support. I get the feeling that a lot of people have had similar experiences. Hopefully, ‘bag lady’ will realise that seats on busy, rush-hour trains are for people and not for bags. After all, I doubt her bag had a ticket.

Rave: parkrun  

I kept quiet about how I felt at the time, but towards the middle of last year, I completely fell out of love with parkrun. While the majority of runners looked forward to their weekly dose of parkrun, I preferred to lie in bed feeling lazy.ParkrunFast forward six months and I’m pleased to report that I’m finally feeling the parkrun love again. I just need to work out how to catch the attention of the official photographer at my local parkrun.

Rant: Random weather

What on earth is going on with the weather at the moment? On Friday, it was sunny and warm, on Saturday it snowed on and off all day and yesterday the weather was rubbish. The dubious weather forecast led to the cancellation and postponement of quite a few local races including the Ashby 20, the Coventry and the Stafford Half marathons and the 7 Pools Run.BBC Weather SundayAfter DNSing the Cambridge Half due to illness earlier this month, I was really looking forward to the 7 Pools Run in Sutton Park. I thought that a 10k cross country run in a park was more or less guaranteed to take place. Unfortunately, the race organisers decided to postpone the race. I’ve got everything crossed they manage to find an alternative date.

Rave: The online running community

After a slightly steady start, I raised over £500 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. When I looked through my supporters, I discovered that the vast majority were runners I’ve never actually met in real life. The online running community – especially Fetcheveryone – is bloody amazing.

I’m a glutton for punishment and have decided to attempt to raise £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. I’ve got until October and will be harassing contacting some of Geoff’s ex-colleagues.

Rant: Office heroes

It’s only March, and I’ve already had several coughs, colds and sore throats. A poorly timed sore throat and cough resulted in me DNSing the Cambridge Half earlier this month. Although I’m blaming public transport for some of my illness woes, I’m also blaming people who come into the office when they are ill.sick-office-employees-cartoon-598x325


As I can’t avoid travelling on buses and trains and spending over 39 hours a week in a warm and potentially lurgy-filled office, I’m going to have to find ways to boost my incredibly fragile immune system. I can’t DNS any more races due to illness!

Rave: Learning how to say no

It’s taken me 35+ years, but I’ve finally sussed out how to say “no” to people. I’ve also stopped trying to please everyone. Once I’ve overcome the initial feelings of guilt, it feels great. I’ve also found the confidence to decline quite a few questionable blogging opportunities.

Once again, if you’ve made it to the end of my latest collection of random rants and raves then thanks!

Have you ever fallen out of love with parkrun?

Did the recent bad weather impact your training and racing plans?


Cambridge Half Marathon training week 12

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. My weekend unfortunately didn’t exactly go to plan…Collage 34The final week of my 12 week ‘intermediate’ half marathon training plan contained three training runs, three rest days and ended with the Cambridge Half. Thanks to the weather and my fear of running in icy conditions, all of the runs were replaced with rest days. I was definitely very well rested before Cambridge.

So how did I get on during the final week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

A lack of direct trains between Birmingham and Oxford on Sunday meant that I booked Monday off as annual leave. Although I enjoyed the longer weekend, I’d rather use my annual leave for ‘proper’ holidays. Rather predictably, I wasted far too much time on Monday checking the trains and the weather forecast for the week ahead. I spent the morning getting everything organised for my trip to Cambridge.

After some world-class procrastinating and weather watching, I spent a couple of hours putting together a presentation on some of the outcomes of my doctoral research. Not the best use of annual leave. I arrived back in Wallingford at 21:00 and discovered that one of my housemates had left the front door wide open. Not ideal as the house was freezing. I got ready for my meeting in London and headed to bed in an attempt to get warm.

Tuesday – Rest

Following a slightly delayed arrival into London, I arrived at my meeting near Westminster with about a minute to spare. Perfect timing!? After a lot of debate about the snow and potential train cancellations, the meeting finished an hour early and we made our way to the nearest tube station. One minute the sky was blue, the next minute it went dark and we found ourselves walking in a blizzard. I said goodbye to my colleagues and 15 minutes later found myself walking along a rather slippery Regent Street – trainers weren’t the best choice of footwear – to meet up with Geoff.Collage 35I tracked down Geoff and we headed into Marylebone for a late lunch. After a bit of debate about what we actually wanted to eat, we ended up in Honest Burger near Baker Street. My free-range chicken burger was okay but a little dry and tasteless. Next time I’ll suggest we opt for pizzas rather than so-called fancy burgers.

I had a somewhat ‘eventful’ journey from London to Wallingford. Thanks to tube, train and bus delays, I didn’t get back to Wallingford until quite late. I took one look at the icy pavements and decided not to attempt my 40 minute easy run. This set the tone for the remainder of the week.

Wednesday – Rest

Thanks to the combination of dazzling sunshine, icy pavements and my fear of slipping over, my walk into work took ages. Once again, I was reminded that having long legs and no coordination is never a winning combination. Although I’m enjoying my job, the highlight of the day was the seriously impressive BLT sandwich I had for lunch. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water. Following my slightly hazardous walk into the office, I was relieved when I discovered that the pavements were more or less completely clear on the walk home. I thought about meeting up with Run Wallingford to do my 30 minute tempo run, but decided not to risk it.

Thursday – Rest

We had some snow overnight, but not enough to prevent me from walking into the office. I was the only person in from my team; I appreciated the peace and quiet. I decided to escape an hour earlier than usual as I wanted to pop into the sports shop in Wallingford to buy myself a Run Wallingford t-shirt. I made the right decision as the conditions worsened during my walk, one minute the roads were clear, the next they were completely grid-locked and nothing was moving. I bought my t-shirt – definitely an essential running related purchase – and managed to make it back to my room without falling over.Collage 36I was packing my bags and making sure I’d got everything I needed for the weekend when I received a text alert; all offices would be closed on Friday. I looked outside and had a bit of a shock, I hadn’t realised how bad the snow had got. I realised I probably wouldn’t be able to travel home, and that the Cambridge Half would take place without me. I’m ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears of frustration.

Friday – Rest

Thanks to #StormEmma – the irony – and the snowy conditions, my final training run of week 12 didn’t happen. As the office was closed and the weather was meant to deteriorate during the day, I decided to leave Wallingford early. The bus journey from Wallingford to Four oaks was a lot faster than usual and three hours after leaving Wallingford, I reached Four Oaks. I spent a few hours finishing off a couple of pieces of work and then got my running gear together for Cambridge. Shortly after lunchtime it started to snow in Four Oaks, the snow continued all day, and I started to worry about getting to Cambridge. I headed to bed early as the sore throat I’d been nursing all week had suddenly got a lot worse.

Saturday – Rest

I checked the Cambridge Half page and the trains the second I woke up. According to the event organisers the half marathon was still going ahead as planned. The local trains, however, were running but with severe delays. I got up, had a shower, got dressed and made myself eat a huge breakfast. I packed my bags and walked the short distance to the local train station.Collage 37Unfortunately, this short walk left me feeling so shattered and light-headed; I reluctantly accepted that attempting to run a half marathon wouldn’t have been sensible. I walked home, cancelled my hotel room, applied for a train ticket refund, apologised to all my sponsors and headed to bed.

Sunday – Rest

I spent most of Sunday doing four things; sleeping, experiencing severe race #FOMO, researching alternative half marathons and summer races. If I’m feeling better, I’ll be running in an exclusive event next Sunday; the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon. There won’t be a medal and goody bag waiting for me at the finish line, but I know that I’ll feel a lot better for running a half marathon.

So a huge “thanks” to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my series of Cambridge Half training updates. After raising a lot of money for charity, I’m devastated that I didn’t make it to the start line. I know that I made the right decision but I’m still feeling incredibly disappointed.  It’s been an eventful training cycle; I’ve relocated (sort of) to Wallingford, started a new job and joined a new running group. Hopefully my next training cycle will be slightly less stressful.

Training totals:

  • Runs: 35
  • Time: 24 hours 29 mins
  • Distance: 144.27 miles

Final niggleometer:

  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Right calf: 3/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 2/10

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 11

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were catching up on some much needed sleep and completing a 6 mile run.

I can’t believe that this time next week I will have successfully *touches wood* completed the Cambridge Half Marathon. I’m trying not to let the dubious weather forecasts stress me out.Collage 31Following a much needed rest day on Monday, an unscheduled trip to a couple of pubs meant that I postponed my run on Tuesday. I plucked up the courage to attend my third training session with Run Wallingford on Wednesday. Although I felt shattered, I managed to complete a 50 minute easy run on Thursday, a 40 minute stair session on Friday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a six mile run yesterday.

So how did my incredibly fragile body cope during the penultimate week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

As always, I found getting out of bed at 07:00 on Monday morning more than a little challenging. I’ve no idea why I felt so tired because I got a reasonable night’s sleep. I even managed to sleep through the usual early morning kitchen noise. After a slightly ‘difficult’ day in the office, I walked back home and headed to my room for a nap. I didn’t get to spend long in my room. One minute I was having a lie down, the next minute I found myself drinking a pint in The Queen’s Head in Crowmarsh with one of my housemates. Spooky! As I was feeling quite tired and hungry, the sensible option would have been to go home after one drink. I’m not sensible and ended up watching the football and drinking a couple more pints in The George Hotel. It was good to see a tiny bit more of Wallingford.

Tuesday – Rest

Once again, my long ‘easy’ run didn’t happen. I can’t remember exactly when, but one minute I was fast asleep, the next I was lying in my bed in agony because my left calf had gone into spasm. My calf was still sore when I got up – even walking the short distance to the bus stop was painful – so I decided to give myself an extra rest day.Collage 33Following a long and hot bus journey into Reading – not ideal with a slightly iffy head, I spent the morning and early afternoon in a series of meetings and training sessions. I left the office and less than 45 minutes later was in London for the first time since December. After the emptiness and silence of Wallingford, the crowds of people and noise took a little getting used to. I called into my old university to collect some paperwork and then met up with my mentor and close friend Geoff for the first time this year. Geoff was as positive as always, and I went away from our all too brief catch-up feeling a lot better about a few career related issues. The journey back to Wallingford was long but stress free and I fell into bed at 22:30.

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

I spent most of the day inspecting hydrometric monitoring sites with a colleague. Although it was incredibly cold, I definitely enjoyed getting away from my desk for a few hours. It’s just a shame I had to pop back into the office for an hour to answer a few emails. Following a trip to Waitrose and quick power nap, I got changed into some running gear and met up with the Run Wallingford group. The training session was a little unusual as a representative from Skins had come along to give a quick presentation on the science of compression and 20 members of the group were testing out a pair of Skins tights.Collage 32The talk was interesting but didn’t do enough to convince me to break my buying new running gear ban. The run around the streets of Wallingford was probably a little fast for me, but I enjoyed running with someone else for the first time in a few weeks. I almost got gritted twice and fell down a pothole. I was quite relieved to make it back from the training run in one piece.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

I escaped from the office at 17:30, got back to my room and then spent what felt like ages watching rubbish on my laptop and generally avoiding getting changed into my running gear. I doubt my 50 minute easy run would have happened had it not been for the generosity of another runner. The email from Just Giving spurred me into action and 10 minutes later I was outside in the cold waiting for my Garmin to work. Once I’d warmed up, the rest of my 50 minute run around Wallingford felt niggle free and fairly easy. It’s just a shame it took me ages to get warm again after my run.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

Thanks to the wonders of flexitime, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home 3.5 hours later. I switched on the heating – for some reason it had turned itself off which wasn’t ideal, had a quick shower, changed into some gym gear, ordered myself a Chinese takeaway and then completed a 40 minute stair session. Although the stair session was incredibly boring and the 40 minutes felt like an hour, my dodgy knee and calf muscles felt reasonably niggle free. I finished the torture stair session feeling confident that weather permitting I’d be able to complete my two weekend runs.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

With just over a week to go until the Cambridge Half, I rather reluctantly gave parkrun a miss and stayed at home. As I wanted to save my legs (and niggles) for my 6 mile run at race pace, I left my Garmin at home and enjoyed a ‘naked’ run. The cold weather unfortunately meant that my speed work session was anything but speedy.

When I got back from my run I really struggled to get warm. I decided that sitting around inside probably wasn’t helping, so I made a start on my list of weekend chores. A couple of hours later I’d collected my online order from Sutton Coldfield, called into the local florists and ordered some flowers for Mothers Day and tackled the ironing mountain. I also spent almost £200 booking my accommodation and train tickets for Cambridge, so much for running being an inexpensive sport!

Sunday – 6 miles steady

I took one look out of my bedroom window at 06:00, saw how icy it was and went back to bed as I didn’t want to risk falling over so close to Cambridge. After a much needed lie-in, I spent the morning stressing myself out by trying to work out how I’m going to fit in everything next weekend. At the moment I’m travelling home on Friday evening, from Birmingham to Cambridge at lunchtime on Saturday and returning on Monday morning. I had originally planned to return home on Sunday, but there aren’t any trains. I’m going to have to be super productive on Friday and Saturday, as I won’t have much time at home on Monday.

After spending the majority of Sunday afternoon getting myself incredibly worked up about the weather forecast for next week, a couple of work related issues and the half marathon, I decided a run would help to clear my mind. Although my niggles behaved themselves during the 6 mile run, I felt incredibly unfit and spent the final mile obsessively checking my Garmin. Not the best way to end the penultimate week of training!

So that’s week 11 of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed. Only another week to go. I had to switch some of my training sessions around but managed to complete all of my runs.

The final week of my Cambridge Half training plan looks both enjoyable and achievable. Injuries and weather permitting, I’m scheduled to complete three training runs and then if everything goes to plan, the Cambridge Half Marathon on Sunday. I’m not convinced I’m ready to run 13.1 miles! I’ve got to complete a 40 minute long easy runs on Tuesday and Friday and a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday.

In order to get me to the start line, my coach has kindly allocated me rest days on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. I’m going to make sure that I do some sort of strength and conditioning on Monday and Thursday and will dig out my foam roller on Saturday morning.

Training totals

  • Runs: 35
  • Time: 24 hours 29 mins
  • Distance: 144.27 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Right calf: 5/10
  • Left foot: 5/10
  • Left calf: 5/10

Rants and raves #24

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after my niggly right knee prevented me from even attempting my final long run before Cambridge. As a result I’m feeling a little bit mardy. I’m also a little grumpy because the weekend is nearly over and I’m about to travel back down to Wallingford. As always all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other far less negative and far, far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Royal Parks Half

After complaining about my six consecutive failures in the ballot for the Royal Parks Half, I’m thrilled to be able to turn a rant into a rave. A couple of Fridays ago I noticed this ‘Congratulations’ email in my inbox.Royal Parks HalfAnd to think I almost didn’t bother to enter the ballot as I thought I was guaranteed to be rejected for the seventh year in a row. I’m over the moon because I’ve now got an autumn target race, will be able to tick off one of my bucket list races and will be able to continue with my fundraising.

Rant: Fundraising

Although I’ve raised £464 out of my £1000 target, fundraising for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust isn’t going quite as well as I’d hoped. My friends, family and a couple of people I’ve never actually met have been really supportive. I’m incredibly grateful for all of their donations.

Unfortunately, my mentor Geoff’s ex-colleagues at the university haven’t been very generous. An email sharing my fundraising page was sent around some of his ex-colleagues a couple of weeks ago. Not one of them have sponsored me. I have to hope that some of them feel a little more generous when I’ve actually completed the half marathon.

I can’t wait to meet some of them at Geoff’s belated retirement.

Rave: Lighter mornings and evenings

When I started working in Wallingford a month ago, it was dark in the morning when I walked into the office and dark when I walked back home. Throughout January, I didn’t actually get to see the centre of Wallingford in the daylight. Last week, it was light enough at 17:30 to walk home without my torch (part of the route has no streetlights) and I actually got see some of the town.

WallingfordI can’t wait for the lighter mornings and evenings.

Running along the River Thames before work will be far more enjoyable than running around slightly scary housing estates. I’m also less likely to injure myself when I can actually see where I’m putting my feet.

Rant: My fragile body

Guess what? I have a feeling that my knee niggle has unfortunately developed into a ‘proper’ injury. It’s my fault for ignoring my tight calf muscles and for running parkrun the day before a 12 mile run. Injury ecard


I’ve cut back my running, have worn my CEP recovery socks, have spent what feels like hours torturing myself on my foam roller and have tried to be sensible. I just have to hope that my knee settles down enough to let me run the Cambridge Half. I also have to hope that running the half doesn’t cause long-term damage to my knee.

Rave: Run Wallingford

Although I’ve only made it to a couple of training sessions with Run Wallingford, the group are incredibly friendly and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of running and training with other people. I’m already looking forward to the lighter evenings and exploring the countryside around Wallingford.

Rant: Public transport

Until I can afford to buy myself a car, I’m going to have to rely on public transport to get me to and from Wallingford.

In order to get back home on a Friday, I catch a bus from Howbery Park to Oxford, a train from Oxford to Birmingham and then a local train from Birmingham to Four Oaks. Last week, the bus from the office was running 15 minutes late and then caught up in traffic in Oxford. The delays meant that I missed my train to Birmingham and had to stand for almost an hour.

During the last five weeks, I’ve encountered manspreading and elbowing, smelly students, an aggressive man who refused to move from my reserved seat, people coughing and spluttering, kids crying, couples arguing, drunks and racists.

I can’t wait to get my own car and my own space!

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest collection of rather random rants and raves then thanks!

If money was no object, what would be your ultimate ‘bucket list’ race?

Have you had any negative experiences on public transport recently?


Cambridge Half Marathon training week 10

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend, mine was incredibly peaceful but productive. I think the highlight of my weekend was catching up on some much needed sleep.Collage 28Following a restful Monday – I enjoyed having a longer weekend and chilling out, I treated myself to an extra rest day on Tuesday, completed a 30 minute tempo run in the wind and rain on Wednesday and a 40 minute not very speedy speed work session on Saturday.

A  niggly right knee meant that I abandoned Thursday’s 60 minute easy run after 10 minutes and my 12 mile run yesterday. In addition to running three times, I also walked to and from my office every day and hobbled back home from the train station on Friday evening.

So what went wrong during the tenth week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

When I automatically woke up at 07:00 I noticed a couple of things. The fact I could barely move after my 12 mile run the previous day was predictable. The snow was slightly more unexpected, and meant that I didn’t get to meet up with my brother and mum for lunch. As I didn’t really fancy falling over and breaking something so close to the Cambridge Half, I decided to stay inside and spent most of the morning writing up some of the results of my research. The extra day unfortunately seemed to last less than 0.000001 nanoseconds.

Tuesday – Rest

 I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve not managed to complete my easy run on a Tuesday. A couple of weeks ago I postponed my run because I felt too tired; this week I postponed my run because my right knee felt niggly and because I ended up back in the Boathouse pub with one of my housemates.Collage 29We got to the pub early enough to take advantage of their cheap 2 for 1 food offer. My scampi and chips were okay but not amazing. I guess you get what you pay for. The three pints of Stella I consumed during and after my meal meant that I actually managed to sleep through the extractor fan.

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

Getting up on Wednesday morning was more than a little challenging. Fortunately, the 1.5 mile walk to work woke me up and I felt fine when I got to the office. Because I’m a complete muppet at times, I didn’t realise that I’d left my Garmin on my desk at work. As I couldn’t be bothered to walk another 3 miles to and from the office rescue it, I decided to run ‘naked’. I think I covered approximately three miles in 30 minutes. The wind, rain and challenging running conditions made the run feel worth a lot more than 3 miles. Unfortunately, my calf muscles felt incredibly tight when I got back to my room.

Thursday – 10 mins easy

I spent most of my day looking forward to getting outside, running for an hour and forgetting about everything. Although I’m enjoying my new job, I do miss being my own boss and having the freedom to experiment, to get things wrong and to ‘think outside the box. After what felt like an incredibly long day in the office, I got back to my room, got changed into some running gear, did some stretches and then headed out the door. A tight right calf and niggly right knee meant that I rather reluctantly abandoned my run after only 10 minutes. Sometimes I really hate being such an injury-prone runner.

Friday – 40 mins torture

Although the walk into the office on Friday morning was rather chilly, I felt a touch jealous of the person I spotted rowing on the River Thames. What an incredible way to start the day.  Collage 30Once again I managed to escape from the office at 15:00. Thanks to the combination of a late running bus, traffic in Oxford and train delays, I didn’t get back to Four Oaks until almost 19:00. As my right knee still felt quite niggly I decided to give my usual stair session a miss. I had a quick shower, put all my work clothes in the wash, ordered myself a Chinese and then treated? my calf muscles to a 40 minutes of foam roller torture. As I’m useless at inflicting pain on myself, I also dug out my rather ancient ‘The Stick’ and gave my calf muscles a good massage. I think the torture session made a difference.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

As I have a sneaky suspicion that my ‘sprint finish’ at parkrun last week buggered up my fragile calf muscles, I rather reluctantly decided to stay at home. With a bit of luck I’ll be back at Walsall Arboretum next Saturday. I wanted to save my legs for my 12 mile run and to enjoy my speed session so I used my Garmin as a stopwatch. Although my speed work session definitely wasn’t very speedy, my calf muscles felt fine and my right knee was niggle free.

When I got home I discovered that my number for Cambridge had arrived. I’ve got everything crossed I can actually run! The rest of my Saturday passed by far too quickly. I met up with mum for an early lunch, spent a couple of hours catching up on some slightly overdue housework, tortured myself again with my foam roller, watched some of the indoor athletics, had a power nap and then walked to the local pub to meet a couple of friends for yet more pub grub and a couple of pints.

Sunday – 12 miles long run

Although I felt refreshed after a great night’s sleep, my right knee felt so sore, I decided to completely abandon my 12 mile run. Years ago I would have run through the pain barrier to complete my run. I’m now a lot more sensible older and experienced enough to realise that running would have made the niggle develop into a ‘proper’ injury.

I spent an enjoyable couple of hours finishing This Girl Ran and then headed into Sutton Park for some exercise, fresh air and thinking time. The rest of the day was over far too quickly and it was soon time for me to start the long journey back down to Wallingford.

So that’s the tenth week of my Cambridge Half marathon training not exactly successfully completed. I’ve got everything crossed that my niggles don’t turn into injuries.

Week 11 – the penultimate week of my half marathon training plan – is described by my running coach friend as ‘Taper Week 1’. Happy days! As I’m starting to fall to pieces, I suspect that my Monday and Thursday rest days will be the highlight of my week. As always, I’ll meant to complete four training runs; a 50 minute easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a six mile run at race pace on Sunday.

If my right knee is feeling niggly when I get home on Friday, I’m going to skip my 40 minute cross training session and dig out my foam roller again.

Training totals;

  • Runs: 31
  • Time: 21 hours 22 mins
  • Distance: 126.46 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Right calf: 5/10
  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Left calf: 5/10

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 9

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to complete a 12 mile run. I’m feeling far too chirpy for a Monday morning because thanks to a lack of direct trains between Birmingham and Oxford last night, I decided to book the day off work.Collage 24Following an incredibly tiring Monday – heading to bed at midnight on Sunday wasn’t sensible, I completed a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a slightly delayed 50 minute easy run on Thursday and only managed to do 20 minutes of cross-training on Friday. I completed my second parkrun of the year on Saturday and spent a couple of hours running around Four Oaks early yesterday morning.

In addition to running four times, I walked the mile or so to and from the office every day. Most mornings it was freezing. All the extra exercise means I’m feeling a lot fitter and ready for the half marathon next month.

I just have to hope I don’t pick up a random injury between now and the start of March!

Monday – Rest

The combination of running 10 miles on Sunday morning and not getting to sleep until almost 01:00 left me feeling shattered on Monday. Getting out of bed at 07:00 was challenging, and I suspect I did an accurate impression of a zombie while I was in the office. Looking back I’ve got no idea how I made it to 17:00 without an afternoon nap. Fortunately, the walk home in what felt like Arctic conditions woke me up. After a quick trip to Waitrose – Wallingford is too posh for cheaper supermarkets, I spent Monday evening catching up on some of my favourite blogs and responding to blog-related emails.

Tuesday – Rest

Last week, I failed to complete my 50 minute easy run on Tuesday because I was feeling absolutely shattered. This week, I failed to run on Tuesday evening because I ended up having a couple of pints with one of my housemates in the Boat House.Collage 25I didn’t feel too guilty about missing my run, as my niggly right knee definitely seemed to appreciate the extra rest day. I also really enjoyed getting to test out one of the many pubs in Wallingford. The walk back in the snow was an added bonus.

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

On Wednesday morning, I was reminded why drinking on a ‘school night’ isn’t very sensible. Getting out of bed was difficult and by lunchtime I was seriously flagging. Completely missing my lunch break because I had to travel to Reading for a meeting probably didn’t help. Fortunately, the walk home woke me up, and when I said I was going to give training with Run Wallingford a miss, my housemate offered to come running with me. Although the cold weather and my housemates pace made the run challenging, I enjoyed running with someone else and getting to see more of Wallingford.

After returning from my run, I prepared my lunch, remembered to get my PPE together ready for spending the day doing field work, set my alarm for a slightly unsociable time and went to bed at a sensible time.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

Thursday was long and quite tiring. I spent all day doing fieldwork and think I overdosed on fresh air. At least I finally got to see some rivers! Thanks to traffic on the M4 and some ‘navigation issues’ on the way into Reading, I didn’t get home until almost 19:00.Collage 26To be honest, I felt so shattered, I didn’t feel like running. I rather reluctantly changed into some running gear and headed out before I could change my mind. The actual run was fine but hard work, possibly because I hadn’t had anything to drink or eat since lunch! I bumped into a group of runners and discovered they were from Wallingford Triathlon Club. I got home, made myself something to eat, made sure I’d packed everything I needed for a long weekend at home, had a shower and headed to feeling exhausted.

Friday – 20 mins cross-training

As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when one of my housemates woke me up at 05:00. Fortunately, my day improved when I discovered that I’d got a place in one of my bucket list races – the Royal Parks Half – on my seventh attempt. When I spotted the ‘congratulations’ email I thought there had been a mistake. I managed to escape the office at 15:00 and got home three hours later. I should have completed a 50 minute cross-training session but felt so shattered I only managed to spend 20 minutes walking up and down the stairs at home.

Saturday – Walsall Arboretum parkrun

I enjoyed parkrunning so much two weeks ago, I was thrilled when I convinced my friend to give me a lift to and from Walsall Arboretum. The weather felt exactly the same as it did a fortnight ago, it was incredibly cold, wet and quite windy. As I arrived at the start with less than a minute to spare, I had to start a little further back than I would have liked. Once I’d managed to navigate my way through the crowds at the start, I increased my pace and was quite pleased when I discovered that I’d finished in 28:44 and had knocked 30 seconds off my previous time.Collage 27The rest of the day was quite not as productive as I’d hoped. As both of my calf muscles were feeling incredibly tight after parkrun, I treated them to a foam rolling session. The pain was pretty intense. I spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep. I also paid £60.95 to enter the Royal Parks Half, I’ve got everything crossed I make it to the start line in October!

Sunday – 12 mile long run

Last week, once I’d woken and warmed-up I really enjoyed my 10 mile long run. Unfortunately, yesterdays 12 mile run was anything but enjoyable. My calf muscles felt incredibly tight and didn’t appear to want to warm up. I felt tired, thirsty and under-fuelled and almost stopped running after four, six and eight miles. I felt so nauseous after 10 miles I had to walk for a couple of seconds. To add insult to injury, the route I’d spent ages mapping out turned out to be 11 rather than 12 miles long #muppet

So that’s the ninth and the most challenging week of my Cambridge Half marathon more or less successfully completed.

For some reason, I assumed that week 10 of my half marathon training plan would form part of the taper. Sadly I was wrong! I have a feeling that the rest days on Monday and Thursday will be the highlight of the week. Following Mondays rest day I’m meant to complete an hour long easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – if Run Wallingford are actually running I may join them, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and another 12 mile long run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 28
  • Time: 21 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 118.48 miles


  • Right heel: 1/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 6/10


Rants and raves #23

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after getting very limited sleep last night. As a result I’m feeling incredibly tired and grumpy. I’m also a little frustrated because the weather is rubbish. As always all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other far less moany and far, far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Running

I don’t want to tempt fate, but I’m really enjoying most of my training runs at the moment. Okay so running loops around a slightly dodgy housing estate in the dark isn’t ideal, but I genuinely believe that some running is better than no running. This may some daft and slightly paranoid, but I’ve reached the stage that I’m enjoying running so much, I’m scared that I’m about to pick up some sort of new and completely random injury.

I was actually quite pleased with my recent 10 mile run.


Running with the Run Wallingford group has enabled me to meet people and to make friends outside of work. However, whenever I run I’m scared I’ll pick up an injury and will have to miss my weekly training sessions with Run Wallingford. I’m also aware that if I get injured I may not be able to complete the Cambridge Half Marathon and would let down my mentor and all the people who have sponsored me.

Rant: my complete lack of self-confidence

Most of you know that just over three weeks ago I started a new job. Unfortunately, I already feel like I’m not doing very well and that I’m a burden on the rest of my team. I’ve done the same job before and feel I should have picked up exactly where I left off, and hit the ground running. Slightly daft given that I last worked as a hydrologist in 2009. One of my colleagues reminded me that it takes at least six months to feel completely settled in a new job. I’m hoping to feel slightly more confident in my new role before June.

I need to remind myself that this happened relatively recently.

Emma Neachell UoW_Marylebone_Graduation_03.2016

Sometimes my complete lack of self-confidence is a nightmare. I’m certain that I come across as being quite negative. Although I’ve now stopped feeling stressed during my 30 minute walk into the office, I still feel as if my manager is about to realise she made a huge mistake, and that I’ll be asked to gather my belongings before being escorted out of the office.

Rave: Wallingford

Although Wallingford definitely doesn’t feel like ‘home’ at the moment – probably because I’ve been spending my weekends in Four Oaks – I’m hopeful that when the weather improves, I’ll start to enjoy living in the town. A number of colleagues have told me that once people move to Wallingford they rarely leave. I’m not convinced!IMG_0803Parts of my 1.5 mile walk into the office are incredibly scenic. I love walking across Wallingford Bridge and checking out the River Thames every morning. I’m really looking forward to being able to run along the river when the weather improves in the spring. One of my housemates is a runner and has promised to show me some of his favourite running routes.

Rant: The weather

Can someone explain to me why the weather is generally okayish during the week but rubbish during the weekend? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve checked the weather forecast for tomorrow morning. Some sites are forecasting icy conditions others are forecasting heavy rain. This is such a #thirdworldproblem but I just want to be able to run without worrying about snow and ice.

BBC Weather

And don’t get me started on the complete lack of consistency between Met Check, the Met Office and BBC weather. It’s 2018, surely there should be slightly more consistency!?

Rave: Flexitime

One of the main perks of my new job has to be the flexitime system. There are other perks but the flexitime system is my favourite. Thanks to the wonders of flexitime, as long as I’ve done enough hours, I’m able to escape from the office at 15:00 on a Friday afternoon. Leaving the office at a sensible time means that if my trains aren’t too delayed, I’m back at home eating a Chinese takeaway less than three hours after leaving the office.

Rant: Noisy housemates

Five of my housemates are really friendly and the house is generally so quiet I forget I’m living with six other people (luckily there are two bathrooms and three loos). However, one housemate has a rather irritating habit of cooking his breakfast at 05:30 and turning on the extractor fan. Not ideal when my room is directly over the kitchen and I’m generally kept awake until 23:00.

The first time it happened – the noise was so loud even my deluxe earplugs didn’t keep the noise out – I wondered what the hell was happening. I’ve now got used to being occasionally woken up at 05:30 but I can’t say that I’m thrilled when I hear the extractor fan first thing in the morning.


I’ll save the running the tap and instant shower scalding combination, the lack of living room and the loo roll thief rants for a future rants and raves blog.

I was going to rant about delayed, smelly and overcrowded trains but I think I’ve complained enough already. I also need to do something slightly more productive with my Sunday afternoon.

Once again, if you made it to the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves then thank you!

How is your running going at the moment and do you have any races planned? Although I’m slightly paranoid I’m going to pick up an injury, I think I’m finally starting to look forward to the Cambridge Half in March.

Does your job come with any unusual perks? My office is located a short walk from the most amazing gym. I can’t wait to be able to afford the membership fees.