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

Niggleometer

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

Niggleometer

  • 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.

Image-1

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.

Loud-noises-anchorman-min[Source]

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.  

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 8

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were escaping Wallingford on Friday afternoon and completing a really confidence boosting 10 mile long run yesterday morning. It’s just a shame that the weekend only seemed to last about five seconds.Collage 20Following yet another tiring Monday, a persistent cough and cold meant that I treated myself to an extra rest day on Tuesday. I attended my second training session with Run Wallingford on Wednesday and completed a challenging 30 minute ‘fartlek’ session. Although I don’t think my legs were completely recovered from Wednesdays training session, I managed to complete an easy 50 minute run on Thursday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a longer 10 mile run yesterday.

In addition to running four times, I walked the mile and a bit to and from the office every day and spent an hour walking up and down the stairs at home on Friday evening. All the extra walking means that I’m starting to feel a lot fitter.

So how did my fragile feet and knees cope with the eighth week of my half marathon training? How did I find running in Wallingford for 50 minutes?

Monday – Rest

Once again, I started the week feeling shattered after one of my housemates kindly woke me up first thing in the morning. I can’t wait to move as although most of my housemates are lovely, sharing a house with six other people can be incredibly stressful. Fortunately, the windy walk to work woke me up and made me feel a lot better. As it was reasonably light, I managed to take some photos of Wallingford and the River Thames. Collage 21I left the office at 17:30, got back to my room and spent an hour or so waiting for a phone call that didn’t happen, read a few blogs, answered a few emails and then headed to bed at 21:30. My phone eventually rang at 22:30 and I struggled to get back to sleep after spending half an hour chatting to my mentor.

Tuesday – Rest

Getting out of bed on Tuesday was difficult. I spent most of the day trying not to yawn every five minutes, staying awake after lunch was somewhat challenging. I would have done anything for an afternoon power nap. I left the office at 17:30, got home 45 minutes later, went for a nap and then woke up two hours later. I weighed up the pros and cons of trying to run in a poorly lit and unfamiliar area, and decided to postpone my 50 minute easy run until Thursday.

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

Following a long but productive day at work, I found myself walking the short distance to Wallingford Sports Hall to meet up with the Run Wallingford group. Earlier in the week, the group leader had sent around an email recommending everyone wore trail shoes. As my trail shoes were chilling out in Four Oaks, I had to make do with my Brooks Adrenalines. The group leader explained that we would be completing triangle and pyramid sessions on the local football field. Both training sessions sounded relativity simple but turned out to quite difficult.Collage 22After a quick warm-up, we split into two groups of seven. My group started with a ‘pyramid’ session, let’s just say I was reminded that I’m a rubbish sprinter and was struggling towards the end. My group then headed to the ‘triangle’ and spent 20 minutes walking, jogging and then running along the three sides of the triangle. I finished the hour session feeling shattered and with trainers and legs covered in mud. Although there had been a fair amount of standing around, I felt I got a good workout as running on muddy grass was energy sapping. I definitely completed my scheduled 30 minute tempo session.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

Thursday should have been a rest day. As I walked back from the office, I realised that I needed some fresh air and some ‘thinking time’ so I decided to attempt the 50 minute easy run I’d missed on Tuesday. Much as I dislike the complete lack of running routes in Wallingford, my new motto is some running is better than no running. After spending far too long faffing around getting my bags packed ready for a quick getaway after work, I got changed into some running gear, did some half-hearted stretches and headed out the door into the cold. The run itself was dull – running laps around a housing estate was monotonous – and I was pleased when the 50 minutes was over. I can’t wait for the lighter evenings when I’ll be able to run along the River Thames.

Friday – 30 mins cross-training

Once again, I managed to escape from the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. I felt so hungry on the final train journey between Birmingham and Four Oaks, I was super lazy organised, phoned my friend and asked him to order me a takeaway from the local Chinese. Dangerous because I knew that as soon as I sat down I’d find it hard to make myself move again. Once I’d finished my Chinese – it tasted amazing – I had a quick shower, stuck all my work clothes in the wash and then treated myself to a power nap. I eventually completed a 30 minute stair session at almost 22:30. My neighbours must have wondered what I was doing.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

I’m not sure my right knee appreciated my 30 minute stair session as it felt a little niggly when I woke at 06:30. I’d originally planned to get my run in before 09:00, but I looked out the window, saw that it was raining and went back to bed. After a sneaky lie-in, I headed out the door and enjoyed running in a sleet storm for 40 minutes. As I wanted to actually enjoy my run and needed to save my legs for my 10 mile run, I decided to use my Garmin as a stopwatch. My ‘naked’ run felt great and I got home feeling cold but invigorated. I had a shower, got my ironing done and met up with my mum and stepdad for a large cooked breakfast in The Mare Pool in Mere Green. I was kind of jealous of the people enjoying their pints at 10:45!

The rest of my Saturday was unfortunately not quite so exciting. I entered a couple of races and resisted the temptation to enter the Great Midlands Fun Run. I sorted through all my running and gym gear and put together a huge pile to list on Facebook next time I have a week off. I then spent a couple of hours sending some slightly overdue emails. I’m so disorganised I sometimes wish I wasn’t an adult.

Sunday – 10 mile long run

Predictably, I had a terrible night’s sleep before my 10 mile long run. At about 06:00 I thought “sod it” and decided to get ready to head out on what I hoped would be my longest run since the Great Birmingham Run. My Garmin must have known I was feeling a little apprehensive about my run as it seemed to take forever to function as a GPS. I had what I hoped was a cunning plan in my mind and set out with the aim of starting at a sensible pace and then increasing my pace if my legs, feet, calf muscles etc felt reasonably niggle free.

The first two miles weren’t very enjoyable as it was cold and my calf muscles felt incredibly tight. Once I’d warmed and woken up, I started to enjoy my run and increased my pace. I felt incredibly relaxed until 8 miles into the run when my stomach suddenly started to feel rather ‘suspect’. Luckily the feeling of needing the loo didn’t last too long and I managed to finish my run without walking and without having an accident. Here’s the link to the Relive video of my run.Collage 23So that’s the eighth week of my half marathon training plan successfully completed. Only another four weeks to go! I had to switch some of the running sessions around but managed to finish all of my runs.

I just had a sneaky peak and discovered that week nine of my Cambridge Half training plan looks rather challenging. I’m concerned that my running coach has been so ambitious; my rest days on Monday and Thursday will be the highlight of the week. So following Mondays rest day I’m scheduled to complete a 50 minute easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo session on Wednesday – I may take part in another Run Wallingford training session, a speed work session lasting 40 minutes on Saturday and a 12 mile long run on Sunday. I queried the 12 mile long run with my coach as I thought it was a typo!

At some stage on Friday I’ve got to fit in 50 minutes of cross-training. If I feel as shattered as I did last Friday I suspect I’ll struggle to motivate myself.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 17 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 95.63 miles

Niggleometer

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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 7

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to convince my friend to drive me to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. After struggling to find suitable places to run in the evening in Wallingford, it felt great to be running in the daylight again.Collage 17Following an incredibly tiring Monday – I’m not convinced I’ve adapted to working in a office yet, I completed my first solo run in Wallingford on Tuesday evening, a 30 minute tempo run on Thursday evening, Walsall Arboretum parkrun and a slightly longer 6 mile run yesterday morning.

Once again, a lack of organisational skills and time on Friday morning meant that I found myself walking up and down the stairs for 50 minutes in the evening. Not ideal after I’d treated myself to a Chinese takeaway.

So how did my fragile feet and knees cope with the demands of the seventh week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Fortunately, Monday was an incredibly restful rest day. After a rather eventful bus journey between Oxford and Wallingford, I didn’t arrive back in my room until almost 22:00 on Sunday. I then found it virtually impossible to get to sleep. I can’t remember exactly when one of my housemates decided to make loads of noise in the kitchen by turning on the extractor fan, but I think it was around 05:00. Marvellous! Work was rather challenging mentally as I was tired and thoughts such as “This time yesterday I was running in a snowy Sutton Park” and “This time yesterday I was in Four Oaks” kept going through my mind.

Tuesday – 45 mins easy

Following a busy and rather tiring day in the office, I found myself getting changed into my ‘lucky’ running outfit just before 19:00. Call me superstitious, but I wanted to do as much as I could to make my first solo run in Wallingford a success! Once I’d warmed-up – I suspect my housemates now think I’m slightly strange – I headed out on what should have been an ‘easy’ 45 minute run. Unfortunately, the run itself felt anything but ‘easy’ as I felt both tired and hungry. After less than 10 minutes I realised my legs were not completely recovered from my snowy Sunday morning run. Looking back, I’ve genuinely got no idea how I managed to run for 45 minutes.

Wednesday – Rest

My original plan was to join up with the Run Wallingford group again. I really enjoyed running with a group last week and was looking forward to running in new places and meeting some more people. However, a sneaky peak on Facebook during my lunch break informed me that the group would be completing a circuits session rather than running. As my rather fragile feet and knees didn’t appear to appreciate last week’s burpees and squats, I decided to be brave and to run on my own again. Collage 18After spending most of the afternoon researching potential running routes in the centre of Wallingford, I ended up postponing my run by 24 hours. Without going into too much detail, I discovered something else my temperamental stomach can’t tolerate. Next time I see anything containing chickpeas I’ll stay well away, it took my stomach ages to return to normal.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

When I got back from the office at 18:30, I felt so hungry I knew that I would struggle to make myself run. I was about to abandon my 30 minute run for a second time, when I received a text message from my mentor. I can’t share the exact contents of the text message, but I was reminded that I’m healthy and I’m lucky I can run. I got changed into my running gear.

My tempo run was challenging because I was feeling angry and made the mistake of setting out at a far too ambitious pace. I was struggling to breathe after 5 minutes, nearly tripped over after 10 minutes and wanted to walk after 15 minutes. Looking back, I’ve got no idea how I managed to complete my training run. If I feel as unfit as I did during Thursdays 30 minute tempo run, I’m going to struggle to complete the half marathon in March.

Friday – 50 mins cross training

Like last week, thanks to the flexi-time system, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. Unlike last week, I felt shattered and seriously considered not attempting my weekly cross training session. Once I’d had a quick shower and a power nap I felt ready to spend almost an hour walking up and down the stairs at home. I’m not sure why, but I found this particular cross training session more challenging than my 8 mile run on Sunday.

Saturday – Walsall Arboretum parkrun

I should have completed a 40 minute speed work session but decided to head to Walsall Arboretum parkrun for the first time since August. Although it was cold, wet and windy and the start of the course was very crowded, I decided to see if I could run a sub 30 minute 5k. I felt amazing during the first lap, not so great during the second lap and wanted to walk a million times during the third and final lap. As you can imagine, I was over the moon when my text arrived and I discovered that I’d finished in 29:15.Collage 19I’m not sure that spending several hours on a train surrounded by people coughing and spluttering did me any favours, as I started to feel quite peaky on Saturday afternoon. I decided that I probably just needed to sleep for a couple of hours so headed to bed for a power nap. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much better when I woke up, and the rest of my Saturday was rather unproductive. Such a waste of a day.

Sunday – rest

When my alarm woke me at 07:00, I felt so unwell I knew that even attempting to run would be stupid. Much as I hate missing longer training runs, I didn’t want to extend my cold and cough by running. I turned off my alarm and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The rest of my Sunday was a little disappointing as I spend most of the afternoon in bed. Perhaps I should have stayed in Wallingford!

So that’s week 7 of my training for the Cambridge Half Marathon not exactly completed. I’m starting to get a little concerned about my missed training runs. Although I missed my longer run yesterday, I’m really pleased that I finally found the confidence to run in Wallingford alone.

As always, week eight of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day. I have a feeling that unless I shift this cough/cold Tuesday will also be a rest day. I’ve then got to complete an easy 50 minute run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – if Run Wallingford are running rather than circuit training on Wednesday I will probably join them, 40 minutes of speed work on Saturday and a longer 10 mile run on Sunday.

At some stage on Friday, I’ve got to squeeze in an hour’s worth of cross-training. As I don’t think I’ll be returning to Four Oaks, I may well check out one of the gyms in Wallingford after work.

Training totals

  • Runs: 20
  • Time: 13 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 73.62 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 4/10

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 6

I’m aware that I’m getting predictable, but I hope that everyone had a great weekend. Mine was enjoyable but only seemed to last five seconds. I travelled back home straight from work on Friday afternoon and returned to Wallingford late last night. I haven’t actually seen Wallingford in the daytime yet!Collage 14Following a slightly stressful Monday, week six of my Cambridge Half training saw me miss an easy 45 minute run on Tuesday – I bottled out of running for 45 minutes in a totally unfamiliar area, switch my 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday to a session with Run Wallingford, complete a 40 minute speed session around Four Oaks on Saturday morning and a longer 8 mile run in Sutton Park on Sunday morning.

A lack of time in the morning meant that I found myself walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes. I’m still not a huge fan of cross-training, hopefully the 30 minutes I spend walking to and from the office counts as an acceptable alternative.

So how did my slightly niggly left calf and left foot cope during the sixth week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

When I looked out my window at 07:00 I discovered that it was raining, a lot. Welcome to Wallingford Emma! Luckily, the rain stopped during my 30 minute walk into the office and I didn’t turn up on day one looking like a drowned rat. I don’t think I should discuss my new job too much on here but it went very well and everyone was really friendly.Collage 15I’ve no idea why I managed to get myself so worked up. I’ve got a nice desk next to the window and spent some of my lunchtime watching groups of people running. At some stage I need to find out more about the lunchtime running groups. For some bizarre reason, I found sitting in an office for almost eight hours incredibly tiring. I guess I’m not used to working 9-5!

Tuesday – Rest

I should have completed an easy 45 minute run on Tuesday evening but in the end I decided not to. I came up with some great excuses including a lack of local running route knowledge, a lack of gym membership funds – I don’t get paid until the end of February and the fact for some strange reason I felt shattered after sitting on my arse all day. At least I got some exercise walking the 1.5 miles to and from the office.

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

Most people moving to a new area probably research useful things like shops and public transport. I spent ages researching running clubs in the area. When a quick session on Google pointed me in the direction of a running group called Run Wallingford, I registered and signed up for a couple of their Wednesday evening training sessions. I figured that some running was better than completely missing my 30 minute tempo run.

After a slightly hectic day at work, I managed to ignore the fact I felt hungry and found myself walking towards Wallingford School feeling incredibly nervous. I tracked down the running group – runners are always easy to spot, introduced myself to the group leader, confirmed that I wasn’t a beginner and joined the group who would be running approximately 5k. After a quick warm-up I found myself running in Wallingford for the first time.

It took me 10 minutes to realise that Wallingford is tiny, has incredibly uneven pavements and rubbish streetlights. While I enjoyed running laps around the town, I didn’t enjoy having to spend a minute completing exercises including press-ups, burpees and squats next to the main road. Next week, I need to remember to pause my Garmin when I’m not running. I also need to make a bit more effort to talk to some of the other runners.

 Thursday – Rest

Less than 5 minutes into my morning walk to the office, I discovered that my first run around the streets of Wallingford had left me with a tight and niggly left calf. Nothing changes. I think the highlight of my Thursday was spotting a notice on a notice board advertising a running club located a short walk from my office. The club organises runs ranging between 5 and 10 miles every Tuesday and a 3 mile time trial every Friday.  When I’m a lot fitter and faster, I’ll do a bit more research.

Friday – 40 mins cross-training

Thanks to the flexi-time system, I left the office at 15:00 and made it back to Four Oaks an hour earlier than I’d originally planned at 18:00. I had a quick shower, got changed into some gym gear, chucked all my work clothes into the wash and settled down in front of the TV with a takeaway. After allowing myself an hour of chilling out time, I made myself leave the comfort of the settee, did some stretches and embarked on a 40 minute stair session. Fortunately, my slightly niggly left calf didn’t feel too bad and I managed to complete my cross-training session.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

Fortunately, I managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to complete a 40 minute run – I’m not sure I could call it a speed work session – before it started to snow. Unfortunately, my Garmin decided that it didn’t want to function as a GPS, again! When I’ve saved up a bit of money, I’ll definitely be investing in a replacement. After spending what felt like ages getting cold waiting for it to pick up a signal, I decided to run using it as an overpriced stopwatch.

As my left calf was still feeling a little niggly after Wednesday’s slightly unusual training session, I decided to jog for a few minutes before starting my run. Once again, the second I started jogging my niggles virtually disappeared. The 40 minute run was amazing; it felt good to be running in the daylight and in familiar surroundings. Thanks to one of my favourite running related websites – GB Mapometer – I worked out that I ran roughly 4.2 miles in 40 minutes, a definite improvement on Wednesday evening! And then it started to snow so much my longer run on Sunday looked doubtful.

The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think vacuuming, ironing, blogmin and stressing, I’ve decided not to bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 8 mile long run

At approx 08:30 on Sunday morning I found myself ‘skating’ the mile or so to Ellen’s house. The pavements were so icy we decided to head into Sutton Park for our 8 mile long run. The long run was challenging in places due to the snow, ice and flooding but a lot of fun. I really enjoyed running with someone else, and doubt I would have even attempted to run in the snowy conditions on my own. We actually bumped into loads of runners; Sutton Park is clearly the place to run on a snowy Sunday morning.  Collage 16I had a quick cuppa with Ellen and then ran back home. I quickly discovered that although I’d started the run with a full set of toenails, I’d ended the run with nine. I spent the rest of my Sunday getting my gear together to take back to Wallingford, obsessively checking the local trains were running and generally wishing that I could stay in Four Oaks. I decided to delay booking train tickets for next weekend and to see how I got on during the week.

So that’s the sixth week of my half marathon training more or less completed. Reaching the halfway stage of my training feels great, only another six weeks to go…

Week seven of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day. I have a feeling that my niggles will need some time to recover after running 8 miles in Sutton Park. I’ve then got to complete an easy 45 minute run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – at the moment I think I’ll run with Run Wallingford again, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a slightly shorter 6 mile run on Sunday. In addition to running four times next week and walking 3 miles a day to and from the office, I’ve got to work out when I can fit in a 50 minute cross-training session.

Although I returned home straight after work on Friday, I’m not sure that I can justify or afford the expense of returning home every Friday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 17
  • Time: 11 hours 26 mins
  • Distance: 63.46 miles

Niggleometer

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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 5

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. Mine was a little frantic at times. Thanks for all of your tips on dealing with life related stresses. When this post is published, I should be about an hour into my new job. I’ve decided to include some of my favourite photos of Four Oaks to remind me of home.Collage 11Following a slightly stressful return trip to Wallingford on Monday, week five of my Cambridge Half training saw me complete an easy 40 minute run on Wednesday evening, a 30 minute tempo run late on Thursday and a 30 minute speed session on Saturday morning. For various reasons, I completely missed my longer 8 mile yesterday. Once again, I found myself walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes on Friday.

So how did my dodgy calf muscles and niggly left foot cope during week five of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Monday was restful but quite draining. My friend very kindly drove me down to Wallingford to check out the room I’ll be renting to start with. For some reason I felt shattered when I got back home. So back to the room. I don’t want to say too much, but although the house is in a great location, there is no shared living room and the room itself was a little disappointing. At least I’ll have more time for reading and blogging.

Tuesday – Rest

Like last Tuesday, I woke up really incredibly gloomy. I’ve said it numerous times but I spend far too much time comparing myself to others. I lay in bed thinking about how little I’ve achieved for someone who is rapidly approaching 40. Most of my contemporaries own their own house, are married with kids and have successful careers. I failed as an academic, and have a PhD not worth the paper it’s printed on. I spent most of the day looking back on all of my career and personal mistakes and worrying about my finances.Collage 12Needless to say, what should have been a head clearing easy 40 minute run turned into another rest day. I know that I always feel better after a run but for some reason, couldn’t force myself out of the door. Sometimes I really don’t help myself.

Wednesday – 40 mins easy

Although I woke up incredibly sorry for myself, again – so much for my New Year’s resolution to be more positive – a text message from my mentor Geoff put everything into perspective. My life may be a filled with uncertainties at the moment, my left foot may be a bit niggly, but I’m reasonably fit and healthy. I spent most of the day writing list after list and wearing out the washing machine. I decided that while I’m not exactly looking forward to leaving Four Oaks, I can make sure that I remember to take everything I need with me to Wallingford.

After a reasonably productive day, I headed out on my 40 minute easy run just after 20:00. Once again, my calf muscles felt a little tight and niggly to start with, but felt okay when I’d been plodding along for a few minutes. I think I actually managed to run at an ‘easy’ pace for the first time in ages. I started off slowly and resisted the temptation to speed up. I felt great when I got home.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

I had originally planned to get my 30 minute tempo run done and dusted before 08:00. However, limited sleep due to the combination of restless legs, an incredibly achy left foot and some epic over-thinking meant that I completely slept through my alarm clock. After spending most of the day trying and failing to finish my discharge-rich paper, I headed across Birmingham to collect a couple of papers from the university library.Collage 13The train home was full of people returning from a concert. The slightly drunken singing was entertaining to start with, but got a little irritating after 30 minutes. I walked home, changed into some running gear and headed out the door. My 30 minute tempo run was completely pain-free and felt amazing. I sometimes wonder if running at an easy pace doesn’t suit my slightly lanky legs.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

Last week, I vowed to find a more enjoyable alternative to my usual 40 minute stair session. As I don’t think shopping counts as cross-training, I found myself plodding up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes on Friday afternoon. I suspect that I’ll have to completely abandon my weekly cross-training session next week. At the moment I’m aiming to leave Wallingford early on Friday afternoon so that I can catch the 17:00ish train from Oxford.

Saturday – 30 mins speed work

Following the advice of my running coach, I decided to use my Garmin as a stopwatch rather than as a GPS for the third week in a row. As the top of my left foot wasn’t feeling great, I decided to jog for 10 minutes to get my injury-prone feet and legs warmed-up. The second I started jogging my left foot stopped hurting, I sometimes wonder if some of my niggles are all in my mind. Although my 30 minute Fartlek session felt like hard work, when I got home I quickly realised that I ran further during my 30 minute tempo session on Thursday night. Another speed work session fail.

I spent the rest of the day ironing, packing, buying some last minute bits and pieces, stressing, crying, researching train and bus times and generally getting myself completely worked up. Rather than making the most of my last full day in Four Oaks, I’m so pathetic I kept on thinking ‘this time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Wallingford’ and ‘this time tomorrow I’ll be in Wallingford’. And I wonder why I started to go grey when I was 16! At least I remembered to map out a route for my 8 mile longer run.

Sunday – 8 miles long run

Predictably, I got zero sleep and lay awake all night stressing myself out about the new job. Most people would see starting a new job and getting their foot back on the career ladder as a major positive, I could only focus on the negatives. I’m all too aware that if I don’t at least start this job, I’ll be letting a lot of people down, especially my mentor Geoff. However, I’m also scared that I’ll fail, again.

So that’s week five of my half marathon training not completed. As I’ll be adapting to working 9-5 for the first time in years and living in a new town, I’m not sure how I’ll find the sixth week of training. I just hope that there are a few street lights in Wallingford!

Week six of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day, this is probably a good thing as I have no doubt I’ll be feeling tired after starting my new job. I’ve then got to complete an easy 45 minute run around an area I’m completely unfamiliar with – at the moment I’m checking out roads with streetlights on Google maps, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a slightly longer 8 mile run on Sunday. It will be good to reach the half-way stage of my training.

At the moment I’m planning on returning home on Friday afternoon, so although I may have to forfeit the weekly cross-training session, weather permitting I’ll be able to do a couple of runs in Four Oaks.

Training totals

  • Runs: 14
  • Time: 8 hours 24 mins
  • Distance: 46.96 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 6/10
  • Calf muscles: 3/10