Great Birmingham Run training week 9

Although I found week eight of my Great Birmingham Run training relatively easy, week nine of the training plan looked far more challenging. Whenever I studied the training plan, I found myself seriously doubting my ability to complete the longer Sunday run.Collage 23Week nine of my half marathon training plan – described as the second “building phase” – consisted of three rest days, a 10 minute run on Monday, 35 minute runs on Wednesday and Friday, and the slightly scary looking 65 minute run on Sunday. Although I had no idea if my knee would allow me to complete all of the training runs, I was determined to give it my best shot.

Monday – 10 mins easy jog

After running on both Saturday and Sunday, I was a little surprised that Monday wasn’t a rest day. I hadn’t attempted to run on three consecutive days for ages – my 37 year old joints definitely need rest days. On the plus side, only having to complete a ten minute run meant that I could turnoff my 05:30 alarm, bliss.

I must have been feeling particularly lazy, as it took me until 08:30 to actually head out for my run. Once again I found running for ‘only’ ten minutes both physically and mentally challenging. It took a couple of minutes for my right knee to stop twinging and for my breathing to settle down. When I got home and studied my run on Strava – I’m aware this is slightly obsessive behaviour – I realised that I had been running far too fast. Not the best start to the week! [Strava].

Tuesday – Rest

I was really relieved that Tuesday was a rest day. My right knee was feeling quite painful and had clearly not appreciated the three day running streak. I spent most of the morning sitting at my computer with an icepack balanced on my dodgy knee. In the afternoon I worked through some of the knee and bum strengthening exercises I’d neglected recently, and by the evening my right knee felt 99 per cent better. Although I felt quite confident that I’d be able to at least start my next training run, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to run for 35 minutes. I reminded myself that not completing a run due to my right knee would be perfectly acceptable.

Wednesday – 35 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I noticed that it was very dark outside. I debated delaying my run until it got lighter. In the end I decided to run. As I didn’t want to frighten any of the early morning dog walking crew, I decided to wear my hideous, bright orange Nike ‘We Own the Night’ t-shirt. Seriously Nike, what were you thinking when you designed that t-shirt? I got dressed, I went to the loo, had a drink and headed out the door. Although it was quite chilly – evidently the early morning heat wave hadn’t reached Four Oaks – it felt really humid.

Predictably the first ten minutes or so of the run felt terrible. My breathing was erratic and I sounded like I was about to have an asthma attack. Although my right knee wasn’t painful I was aware that it felt quite numb – never a positive sign. Unfortunately the run didn’t improve after the ‘Toxic 10’ and I ended up having to stop and give myself a stern talking to after I’d been running for 20 minutes. My 35 minute ‘run’ became even more farcical when I had to slow to a walk to navigate my way past a section of pavement works. I’d clearly missed the ‘Footway Ahead Closed’ sign. [Strava].

Thursday – Rest

Unfortunately, my right knee was quite painful first thing in the morning, so I spent an hour watching the TV with an icepack balanced on my knee. Not a very productive start to the day. After spending far too long sitting working at my computer, I realised that I was getting a headache, always a sign that I need to take a break. I got changed into some gym gear and worked my way through several of Jasyoga’s brilliant 5-minute reset videos. In the evening I worked through my knee and bum strengthening exercises, and spent an enjoyable hour studying the sports injuries book I’d bought from the charity bookshop.

Friday – 35 mins steady

After my failed attempt at running for 35 minutes on Wednesday, I was determined to successfully complete my training run on Friday morning. My alarm woke me at 05:30, five minutes later I was dressed and more or less ready to run. After a very quick warm-up I felt mentally if not physically ready to attempt a 35 minute run. Although the first ten minutes or so were a struggle, once I’d warmed and woken up I enjoyed the rest of the run. What a contrast to Wednesday [Strava].

I walked home, knocked back a glass of strawberry milkshake and then spent ten minutes sitting outside surrounded by snails and slugs, icing my right knee. After a quick post-run snooze I felt refreshed and ready for Friday. I spent the rest of the day writing an academic paper, reviewing an unpublished manuscript, sorting through some books to sell online, writing a Rants and raves blog post, getting the washing mountain under control and planning a route for my 65 minute run on Sunday. My life is pretty dull at the moment.

Saturday – Rest

The excitement of Friday must have worn me out, as I didn’t wake up until 08:30. I spent the day reading through a pile of academic papers. Not very exciting but I wanted to avoid using my right knee as much as possible. In the evening I gave the pub a miss and spent a stressful hour or so watching Casualty. Hopefully my normal Saturday evening drinking session will resume after the Bank Holiday weekend.     Collage 24

Sunday – 65 mins steady

The prospect of having to run for over an hour was clearly playing on my mind as I only managed to sleep for a couple of hours. Not ideal! When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I felt really tired and had to fight the temptation to hit the snooze button. I went to the loo – twice, got dressed into one of my brightest running outfits, had a couple of glasses of water, filled up my handheld water bottle and headed out the door. After a quick warm-up I felt ready to attempt my longest run since the London Marathon back in April.

Once I’d got the ‘Toxic 10’ out of the way I started to really enjoy my run. I’d mapped out my route the day before using Mapometer – knowing exactly where I had to run made me feel more confident I could complete the run. When I’d been running for approximately 30 minutes I paused my Garmin and walked for a couple of seconds. I felt thirsty and needed a drink, for some reason I can’t drink and run. I really need to master the art of drinking and running. I felt better after my quick water stop and the rest of the run was incident free [Strava].

As soon as I got some I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange nuun, I was determined to avoid a post run headache. I then sat down and watched some Sunday morning rubbish on the TV while I iced my right knee and left foot. Once I’d finished making myself feel cold I was lazy and had a quick shower and then went back to bed for a couple of hours.

So that’s the ninth week and the second building phase of my half marathon training successfully completed. Once again I was reminded that I need to slow down and maintain a sensible pace during my longer training runs. I was also reminded that I need to drink during longer training runs. I might christen the Ultimate Direction hydration pack I won in a competition earlier this year, at the moment it’s sitting in my wardrobe gathering dust.

Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and looks quite scary. I’ve got to complete a 35 minute run on Tuesday, a slightly speedier 45 minute run on Thursday, a 20 minute recovery run on Friday and then a 75 minute jog/walk on Sunday. I’m confident that I can run for 75 minutes if I start off at a sensible pace. I’ve already planned out a seven mile route.

Training totals

  • Runs: 29
  • Time: 11 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 110.91 kms

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 28:15
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12

Niggleometer

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

Do you carry water with you on training runs? I don’t usually bother, but on longer training runs I’ve noticed how rubbish I start to feel when I’m thirsty. Fantasising about water can’t be a positive sign!

Do you plan out your route before you run? I personally find it a lot easier when I know exactly where I’m going to be running.

Rants and raves #7

**Disclaimer: this post was written while the author was experiencing a quite severe dose of Bank Holiday weekend #FOMO and running injury induced blues. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Rave: the Olympics

Like the vast majority of people I follow on social media I loved the 2016 Olympics. Unfortunately, some of my family spent the two weeks complaining about sports taking over the BBC, I told them to get a grip. Although due to my obsession with getting more sleep, I had to miss loads of the athletics finals, I still managed to watch most of my favourite sports. I loved watching people who had clearly worked incredibly hard achieving their goals. I loved the break from all of the negativity in the press.Nick SkeltonMy Rio 2016 highlights included Mo Farah doing the double, Simone Biles seemingly defying gravity, the Brownlee brothers winning gold and silver, Andy Murray winning a second gold medal and one of my favourite athletes – Ruth Beita – winning gold in the high jump. However, my number one highlight was watching Nick Skelton win a gold medal in the individual show jumping.

Rant: pavement works

Regular readers of my blog will have noticed that I’ve been spending a lot of time training for the Great Birmingham Run. Like most runners I’m quite predictable and have a favourite running route. The route is relatively flat – unusual for Four Oaks – and usually very quiet. Having some posh houses and bungalows to admire while I’m running is an added bonus.

Imagine my horror when I recently discovered that my favourite route had been converted into an urban assault course. Huge sections of the pavement had been fenced off leaving me with no other option but to run in the road. Pavement 1

Pavement 2

I quickly discovered that temporary yellow plastic covers are really, really slippery when they are wet. Huge sections of the pavements in Four Oaks have been out of action for over two months now. Only this morning I noticed a new section of my favourite route had been marked up ready for the diggers to move in. I’m rapidly running out of places to safely complete my early morning runs!

Rave: Up & Running Birmingham

Although Birmingham is supposedly quite a large city, the absence of stores such as Nike, Lululemon, Sweatshop and Sweaty Betty mean that there are very few free organised training sessions. In London I could theoretically attend training runs and gym classes for free several times a week. In Birmingham, if I want to run with others or attend a yoga session I have to pay.

Earlier this year Up & Running Birmingham organised a series of free Night Runs. Unfortunately I was coming back from injury and only managed to attend one session. As you can imagine I was thrilled when I discovered that Up & Running Birmingham are in the process of setting up a Social Run with Great Run Anytime.Up & Running

I’m definitely going to attend the launch party on September 5th. I might even treat my niggles to a physio assessment and a 5k run around the centre of Birmingham.

Rant: niggles

I’ve now reached week nine of my half marathon training – only another seven to go. At the moment I have a painful right knee, a sore left foot and slightly sore to the touch shins. As my half marathon training has got more challenging, I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with sports injury books and have turned into a hypochondriac. I genuinely have no idea if I’ll be able to run a half marathon in October.

Rave: new trainers

After an unsuccessful shopping trip while I was in London last week, I tracked down some Adrenalines in the Sweatshop sale. I’m now the proud owner of a new pair of Adrenalines in a slightly dodgy colour. I love the smell of new trainers – does that make me strange?New AdrenalinesI just need to find some mud now!

Rave: St Ives harbour webcam

And finally, I’ve done enough moaning so I’ve added a bonus rave. I live approximately eight miles to the north of the UK’s most landlocked city, Birmingham. The closest beach to Birmingham is over 100 miles away at Weston-super-Mare. I couldn’t live much further away from the coast! During the last couple of weeks I’ve become slightly obsessed with watching the St Ives harbour webcamSt IvesI clearly really need a holiday!

If you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, I’m seriously impressed.

Apologies for the very random blog, hopefully my next post will actually feature some running.

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**