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
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Cambridge Half Marathon training week 4

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I’m feeling a little stressed out at the moment because this time next week, I’ll be starting my new job.Collage 8Following an incredibly restful New Year’s Day, week four of my Cambridge Half Marathon training saw me complete a rather challenging and not very ‘easy’ run lasting 40 minutes during Storm Eleanor, a 30 tempo run with incredibly tight calf muscles on Thursday evening, a ‘naked’ 30 minute speed session on Saturday morning and an abandoned longer run yesterday. Due to my lack of gym access, I found myself spending 40 minutes walking up and down the stairs again on Friday.

So how did my fragile body cope during week four of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

After my late night six mile run, I started 2018 feeling tired but hangover free. As the weather was pretty depressing all day, I had an incredibly quiet and relaxing New Year’s Day. The perfect rest day and a great start to 2018.

Tuesday – 40 mins easy

I’ve no idea why, but I felt incredibly gloomy when I woke up. I made the mistake of comparing my fundraising with a couple of other runners I follow on social media. This pointless exercise left me feeling like a failure as both a friend and as a fundraiser. I’ve said it before but comparison really is the thief of joy. I cheered myself up a little by ordering some bits and pieces from Myprotein and by writing some running goals for the year ahead.Collage 9I was feeling so sorry for myself; I didn’t head out on my 40 minute ‘easy’ run until the evening when Storm Eleanor had made an appearance. Stupid of me when I know running generally makes me feel better. My calf muscles felt a little tight and niggly to start with, but once I’d warmed up they felt fine. When I got back and checked my Garmin stats, I discovered just how much Storm Eleanor had assisted my run.

Wednesday – Rest

Although Storm Eleanor had helped my run, she also kept me awake most of the night, and I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling tired and incredibly grumpy. I also had such a bad headache I decided to postpone my 30 minute tempo run until Thursday. I spent the morning trying and failing to be productive before I eventually gave up and went back to bed for a quick nap. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling slightly disorientated but headache free. Once I’d woken up a little, I reintroduced my calf muscles to my favourite foam roller. While it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience as I’m useless at inflicting pain on myself, my calf muscles did feel much better afterwards.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

I had originally planned to get my 30 minute tempo run done and dusted before breakfast. The combination of yet another night of limited sleep – I wish I could stop stressing myself out about everything at 02:00 – and another headache meant that I decided to delay my run until the evening.

After spending most of the day faffing around and making packing lists, I got changed into some running gear and spent an enjoyable 30 minutes or so working through some stretches. My run was anything but tempo paced until I bumped into Ellen, the lady I ran the majority of the Lichfield 10k with last year. Although we only ran together for 15 minutes, it was great to have some company. Ellen definitely made me run faster than I probably would have done.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

Once again I found my 40 minute stair session physically and mentally challenging. The 40 minutes felt like forever, I nearly gave up after 10 minutes and during the final 20 minutes decided that I’d rather be outside running. I had a bit of an injury scare when my right knee started to make a slightly dodgy creaking noise after 20 minutes. I think that I also I managed to break the bottom step. Next week, I’m going to spend the 40 minutes doing something a little more enjoyable.

I was feeling a bit miserable about my niggly knee when I received a text message from my mentor that put everything into perspective. I can’t go into details, but his text prompted me to make an appointment to hopefully give blood on Wednesday.

Saturday – 30 mins speed work

My first attempt at my weekly 30 minute speed work session lasted less than 10 seconds. Even though it didn’t look very cold outside, the pavements were icy and I nearly slipped over a couple of times. I decided to postpone my run for a couple of hours.  Collage 10My second attempt was a little more successful. Following the advice of my running coach, I used my Garmin as a stopwatch rather than as a GPS. I jogged for 5 minutes to get my legs warmed up and then started my Fartlek session. Running ‘naked’ helped take the pressure off and I worked out that I ran approximately 3 miles in 30 minutes, a definite improvement on last week’s rather sluggish speed work session.

Sunday – 1 mile hobble

I made the difficult decision to abandon my 6 mile long run after less than a mile. My right knee felt quite painful and I was aware that I was running like a wonky donkey. I didn’t want my knee niggle to turn into an injury, so I hobbled back home feeling sorry for myself. Once I’d stopped sulking about my aborted run, I spent the rest of the day making packing lists and stressing out about my new job.

So that’s week four of my Cambridge Half Marathon training not completed. That means I’ve only got a house move, a new job, some niggles and another 8 weeks to negotiate.

The fifth week of my half marathon training plan contains four runs and one cross-training session. I’ve got to somehow complete an easy run lasting 40 minutes tomorrow, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 30 minute speed work session on Saturday – I’d love to make it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun one last time before I move, and a slightly longer 8 mile run on Sunday. Today and Thursday will be my much needed rest and recovery days, and I suspect that as my friend is away, I’ll be walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes on Friday. I suspect that this cross-training session will be more challenging than some of my mid week training runs.

Training totals

  • Runs: 11
  • Time: 6 hours 44 mins
  • Distance: 37.58 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 7/10
  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Calf muscles: 4/10

Not a running related question, but do you have any tips for coping with life related stresses? At the moment I’m getting myself really worked up about my new job.

Do you ever run without your GPS at home? I’m starting to suspect that I run better without my Garmin.  

My running goals for 2018

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a slightly belated Happy New Year. Here’s to an injury and niggle free 2018.

I’m aware that some people are getting slightly fed up with all the #NewYearNewYou posts circulating on social media. Hopefully, my running goals don’t bore you all to tears.training-journalsI’ve already reviewed 2017 or the year of the DNS in quite a lot of detail. As I’ve now drawn a line under what was, for various reasons, a pretty shitty year for me, it’s time for me to look ahead to 2018 and to set myself some running goals.

Like last year, I’ve decided to set myself some quite challenging but hopefully achievable running goals for the year. After, with one notable exception, I failed to achieve most of last year’s goals, I wasn’t originally going to make my goals for 2018 public. Then I reminded myself that one of my goals as a blogger in 2018 is to be completely honest and open, so I decided to publish this post.

Raise £1000 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust – This is probably my main running related goal of 2018. Fundraising is going quite well at the moment and I’ve got a few events planned to help me hopefully reach my target.

Run 1000 km – I briefly considered setting myself the challenge of running 1000 miles in 2018. A slight twinge from my left foot reminded me that (a) I’m incredibly injury-prone and (b) I only managed to run 208 miles last year. As a result, I decided to be sensible and lowered my expectations a little. I’ve entered the 1000 km in 2018 challenge on Virtual Runner and have set my distance target on Fetcheveryone so that I can monitor my progress.

Complete 10 races – I set myself the same goal in both 2016 and 2017 and failed miserably. Although I only completed a couple of races last year, I’ve already entered several races this year. I’m quietly confident I’ll earn myself a few more running medals this year.

Complete 10 parkruns – I’ve worked out that my new nearest parkrun will be in Didcot, a short bus journey from Wallingford. I’m going to give myself a couple of weeks to get used to working 9-5 again, and then I’ll check out Didcot parkrun.

A sub 8 minute mile – My current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012. While I’m currently struggling to maintain a 10:00 min/mile pace during my training runs, I’d like to lower my mile PB at some point this year, hopefully at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May.

A sub 25 minute 5k – Last year, I completed my only 5k in the not so impressive time of 32:49. I set my 5k PB of 26:49 back in February 2016 when I weighed 10kg less than I do at the moment. I suspect that I’ll find running 5k in under 25 minutes incredibly challenging, but I’m going to give it a go.

A sub 55 minute 10k – After it took me almost 67 minutes to complete the Lichfield 10k in September, I have a feeling that improving my 10k time by over 10 minutes may be asking too much. If I’m still in one piece at the end of April, I’ll enter the flat and fast Vitality London 10,000 and see what happens.

A sub 2:20 half marathon – At the moment *touch wood* my running mojo has returned and training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March is going quite well. While I’d love to achieve this particular running goal during the Cambridge Half, I have a backup race. Injuries and niggles permitting, I’ll be running the Reading Half Marathon a couple of weeks after Cambridge.

Injured runner[Source]

Listen to my niggles – I’m definitely an injury prone runner. Some runners hardly ever seem to get injured; I’m always flirting with the injury bench. As I don’t want to spend another six months feeling slightly envious of other runners, I’m going to continue to listen to and closely monitor my niggles.

Make friends with strength and conditioning – This is one area I’ve neglected in the past. My new office is located a short distance from a gym. I’m going to join the gym and will make friends with strength and conditioning. I’d be pretty stupid not to.

Be slightly more sociable – I set this as a running goal last and failed so spectacularly, I’ve decided to set the same goal again this year. I’ve tracked down a local running group in Wallingford and am looking forward to meeting new runners and hopefully making some new friends. I’m determined to overcome my anxiety and to attend more social runs.

Running simplicity[Source]

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal last year and I’m proud to report that I smashed it. My friend bought me some funky running leggings in the Sweaty Betty sale and Myprotein very kindly sent me a sports bra, running leggings and t-shirt as part of my blogging award prize. Yesterday, I treated myself to some shorts, tops and another sports bra using the £100 voucher Myprotein sent me. So although I’m going to have to buy some new trainers and probably a replacement Garmin at some stage this year, I don’t need to buy anything else.

Have you set yourself any running goals for 2018 or do you prefer to go with the flow?

Do you have any fundraising tips? At the moment I’m planning on organising a quiz night and possibly a virtual run.

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 3

I hope that everyone had an amazing evening. For some reason, I decided to complete my six mile run just before midnight. I’m feeling shattered this morning.

I hope that everyone has a healthy, happy, injury free and PB-tastic 2018.Collage 5Following a rather lazy but incredibly calorific Christmas Day, the third week of my Cambridge Half training saw me complete an easy 30 minute run on Tuesday evening, completely miss my 30 minute tempo run due to eating far too much bubble and squeak on Wednesday, a 30 minute long speed(?) session on Saturday and a longer six mile run yesterday evening. After feeling too unwell to complete my cross-training session last week, I found myself spending 40 minutes wearing out the carpet on the stairs at home again on Friday.

So how did I find the third week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Twelve months ago, a very badly timed dose of the lurgy left me with very little appetite on Christmas Day. I was gutted as I love turkey and all the trimmings. This year, I was lurgy free and managed to squeeze in seconds and thirds.Collage 6I ate so much, our traditional post Christmas lunch family stroll was a real challenge. So much for me being the ‘fit‘ member of the family. At least the wind and wind make me feel slightly less stuffed. After helping with the washing-up – the dishwasher was broken, great timing – we settled down in front of the TV and relaxed.

Next year I want to cook Christmas lunch for my family. As I don’t have my own house, I’ll have to convince Mum to let me cook on her Aga.

Tuesday – 30 mins easy

I’ve no idea why, but I woke up on Boxing Day morning feeling really, really hungry. I also felt incredibly tired. Spending most of my Christmas Day sitting down had clearly worn me out. I spent most of the day snoozing and watching rubbish on the TV. Thanks to some quite impressive faffing, I didn’t head out on my 30 minute ‘easy’ run until the evening. The weather was perfect for running as it was cold, wet and incredibly windy. The pavements were empty as most sensible people were inside eating more food and watching TV. Although the wind made running challenging in places and I got soaked, I really enjoyed the run and felt much better afterwards.

Wednesday – Rest

As, thanks to my fragile feet, I like to leave as much time as possible between each training run, I decided to delay my 30 minute tempo run until the evening. In the end, I completely missed my run due to excessive eating at dinner time. Mum invited me around for some cold turkey and bubble and squeak, I still felt dangerously full several hours later. You win some, you lose some…

Thursday – Rest

When I woke up on Thursday, I opened my bedroom curtains and saw that the icy conditions had made an unwelcome return. As I didn’t want to break anything, I decided to actually rest on my rest day. After a reasonably productive morning, I decided to take a break from writing about rivers and switched my attention to running. I spent a couple of hours reviewing 2017 in far too much detail and setting myself some running and ‘life’ goals for 2018.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

As Father Christmas didn’t bring me either a treadmill or turbo trainer, I decided that a 40 minute stair session would be better than no session. Once again, I found walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes more challenging than it probably should have been. To add insult to injury, my right knee started to feel a little bit niggly during the final 10 minutes. Next week, I’ll have to convince my friend to sign me in as a guest at the gym he goes to.

The rest of Friday was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Saturday – 30 mins speed work

When my alarm woke me, although my knee still felt a little niggly, I decided to attempt to run. I promised myself that I’d be sensible and stop running if my knee became more painful. Unfortunately, my Garmin refused to switch on, so I had to run using my old phone as a stopwatch. I guess my coach did tell me to ignore my Garmin during speed work sessions.

After jogging for 5 minutes in an attempt to get my legs working – my right knee felt fine – I attempted a 30 minute Fartlek session. I think running ‘naked’ helped take the pressure off and my attempt at a speed session was more successful than it was last week. I worked out that I ran roughly 2.85 miles in 30 minutes. My knee felt fine afterwards.Collage 7After spending several hours sitting at my computer and giving myself a headache, I needed a change of scenery and some fresh air. Most sensible people would go for a quick stroll around the block, I decided a quick pint would help and walked the short distance to my local pub. As the pub was hot and noisy, I took my pint outside and spent an hour chilling out (quite literally!) and looking back on 2017.

Sunday – 6 miles long run

I decided that as I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s Eve, I’d start my 6 mile long(ish) run about an hour before midnight. I figured that running would distract me from the New Year’s Eve celebrations and would enable me to start 2018 a clear head. That was the theory.

After spending most of the final day of 2017 getting myself stressed out about minor ‘stuff’ – I also managed to fix my Garmin – I got changed into some running gear and spent an enjoyable 30 minutes working through some stretches. I headed out on my run at a time which in theory meant that I would quite literally run into 2018.

The six mile run was quite amusing. Although I was alone and it was surprisingly quiet, the occasional blasts of noise from the various house parties I ran past kept me entertained. One house party seemed to get louder with each lap, the singing was pretty epic. And then after I’d been running for over 5 miles the fireworks started and I assumed it was midnight. Happy New Year! I reached 6 miles a little distance from my house, stopped my Garmin and checked the time and discovered it was only 23:59. I started to run again and then the fireworks and 2018 really started.

So that’s the third week of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed.

Week four of my half marathon training plan contains four runs and one cross-training session. I’ve got to complete a 40 minute easy run tomorrow, a 30 minute long tempo session on Wednesday, a 30 minute speed work session on Saturday – I’d love to make it to my local parkrun, and a six mile run on Sunday. Today and Thursday are my much needed rest days and once again, my coach has set me the task of completing a 40 minute cross-training session on Friday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 8
  • Time: 5 hours 4 mins
  • Distance: 27.95 miles

Niggleometer

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

Did you have a good Christmas and New Year’s Eve? My Christmas was pretty amazing; my New Year’s Eve was pretty average.

Do you have any races planned for the first half of 2018? I think I need to stop entering races as with my track record with injuries, I’m probably tempting fate.

2017 Review: The year of the DNS and lessons learned

As 2017 – the ‘Year of the DNS (Did Not Start)’ – is almost over, I’ve decided to review my running highlights, lowest points and lessons learned throughout the year. If you don’t enjoy reading review type posts then I’d recommend that you stop reading now.

January

After a relatively positive final six months of 2016, I started the year feeling so positive about my running, I decided to share my goals for 2017. Training for the Cambridge Half Marathon was going well and I felt so confident and niggle free,  I entered several local races. And then one morning I got out of bed and discovered that I could hardly walk. A couple of trips to a local physio and a lot of Dr Googling confirmed that I’d got the injury most runners dread; Plantar Fasciitis. Wearing heavy duty safety boots for three months had damaged my right foot.

February

February was a rubbish month. I failed to get a ballot place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon for the sixth year in a row and I ran the not so impressive total of two miles. This short run confirmed that although I’d spent hours working through various Plantar Fasciitis exercises and stretches, my right heel was not getting any better. I needed to rest and to be patient.

March

I’ve just checked my running log and discovered that I ran zero miles in March. I resigned from my running club and became an unaffiliated runner for the first time in more than 10 years.

DNSI’m not sure that I agree with this…

I failed to make the start line of two races; the Cambridge Half Marathon and the 7 Pools Run. My weight increased and my mental health started to deteriorate.

April

April was another month of zero running and looking back, I wonder how I coped. I broke down in the middle of a pub meal when I discovered that I hadn’t been short-listed for my dream job. I’m so embarrassed I still haven’t returned to that pub. I failed to complete my Swimathon challenge and felt terrible for letting the organisers of Swimathon and the BlogSquad down a second time. The City of Birmingham Run was yet another DNS. There was, however, one huge positive in April. My right heel finally started to feel a bit better and walking became a little easier.

May

At the beginning of May I reached the grand old age of 38 and my right heel felt so much better, I treated myself to a short birthday run. Those two miles felt bloody amazing. Although both the Market Drayton 10k and the Vitality London 10,000 were added to my DNS list.

May 2017Finally starting to enjoy running again.

I started to run 2-3 times a week without the pressure of my Garmin.  At the end of May I ran for an hour and finally started to feel like a runner again.

June

Although my right heel was occasionally still a little sore, I was given the green light to start running more consistently. At the end of June I updated my running goals and race plans for the second half of the year. I also started training for the Great Birmingham Run in October.

July

The start of July saw me DNS the Great Midlands Fun Run. I felt a bad because I could have completed the 8.5 mile course but just couldn’t be bothered. Once I’d stopped beating myself up about what I considered a running ‘fail’, I cracked on with my half marathon training. I think my biggest achievement in July was entering the hugely popular Market Drayton 10k while drunk. Although my friends thought I was mad, I was pleased that I persevered as the race sold out the following morning.

August

My half marathon training continued and I started to feel my fitness levels increase. I rediscovered my love of early morning running and having the pavements of Four Oaks all to myself. I felt so confident I entered the Lichfield 10k. August also saw me complete my only parkrun of 2017 in the slightly disappointing time of 32:49.

Walsall parkrun 2017Heading towards the finish of my only parkrun in 2017.

Although I try to avoid looking back on previous training cycles, I couldn’t believe I was almost 4 minutes slower over 5k than I was in 2016. Towards the end of August I discovered that I’d landed myself a job interview. Like last year, August was a great month, it’s a shame the positivity didn’t last.

September

At the start of September I completed the Lichfield 10k in 66:52, my slowest ever time for a 10k race. Although I paced myself well, I let the hills beat me and was reminded that I need to work on my mental resilience as a runner.

Lichfield 10kA rare sight in 2017, a post-race medal pose.

I struggled during some of my longer runs and started to doubt myself as a runner. I also started to experience severe headaches; one headache was so bad I ended up spending the night in A&E. September wasn’t all bad as I discovered that I’d finally got a new job.

October

One event – the Great Birmingham Run – should have dominated my thoughts during the first half of October. However, receiving the devastating news that my close friend and mentor Geoff had inoperable cancer quite rightly meant that running was the last thing on my mind. I felt so unprepared, I almost pulled out of the half marathon. I ended up completing the Great Birmingham Run in a slightly disappointing 2:43:32 and hung up my trainers for the rest of the month. At the end of October I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon and after talking to Geoff, set myself the challenge of raising a shed load of money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.

November

November has always been my least favourite month. I think the dark mornings and evenings really impact my mental health. After finally drawing a line under the Great Birmingham Run, I made the decision to run for fun and without any time or distance pressures and hid my Garmin. Although I really tried to adopt a positive attitude, I felt like my life was completely out of control and shared my feelings.  The support of the running and blogging communities was a little overwhelming but incredibly helpful. Thank you!

December

This month has been quite positive. I got to visit Geoff in London and hope to meet up with him before I start my job next month. I started my Cambridge Half Marathon training and *touch wood* my fragile feet are coping with the training plan my running coach friend compiled for me.

Cambridge Half trainingThe start of my Cambridge Half Marathon training.

I discovered that I’d won the fitness category of the Myprotein Blogger Awards 2017 and got through the festive periods without too many tears. Yesterday, I entered a couple of races; The Treehouse 10k and the Wallingford Thames 10k. I can’t wait to explore the Oxfordshire countryside. Finally and most importantly, I managed to raise over £400 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. Not bad for someone with hardly any friends.

I’ve already set myself some running goals for 2018 and can’t wait to challenge myself next year.

2017 runningHopefully 2018 will be far more consistent. 

As a runner, 2017 was an incredibly challenging year. I’m hoping that 2018 is a little more enjoyable and injury free!

What was the running highlight of 2017 for you? I think mine was not completely giving up during the first half of the year.

Do you have any running and fitness goals for 2018? I think my main goals are to remain relatively injury free and to enjoy my running more. Life is short.

Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream review

Although I love winter and enjoy running when it’s cold, my skin most definitely doesn’t. If you’d asked me to list my winter running essentials 10 years ago, I’d have said a hi-visibility running jacket, gloves and a head torch. A sports specific moisturiser wouldn’t have featured.

I’m not sure if it’s age related, but for the last couple of years my skin has felt really dry during the winter, especially after I’ve been running.

As you can imagine I was thrilled when I was offered the opportunity to test out and review a sports moisturiser; Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration cream.

Brodie 1

Now that I’ve been using the Recovery Phase Rehydration cream for several months, I feel that I’m definitely in a position to write a hopefully useful review.

What is Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration cream?

While exercise has many amazing health benefits, it can be tough on the skin. During periods of exercise, the amount of oxygen used by the body increases, raising the number of free radicals produced, potentially causing damage to the skin. The combination of heat, acidic sweat, oxidative stress and dehydration can result in dry, sore and sensitive skin.

Brodie Skin Care developed Recovery Phase Rehydration cream to help the skin recover quickly and effectively from the internal and external stresses following exercise.

The cream:

  • Is specifically designed to help your skin repair and recover after exercising.
  • Provides intense rehydration.
  • Promotes cell regeneration.
  • Balances your skins natural pH.
  • Cools, soothes and protects.

As a keen runner with incredibly sensitive and rapidly aging skin, the Recovery Phase Rehydration cream sounded perfect. After researching the potential benefits of the cream, I couldn’t wait to put it to the test.

The review process

As I’m a complete novice when it comes to skincare products and moisturisers, I decided to read the guidance Brodie Skin Care provided, and applied the Recovery Phase Rehydration cream immediately after my post-run showers for maximum absorption. I think it’s worth me highlighting that when it comes to applying this cream, less is more and a little goes a long way!

Brodie 2

I was a little concerned that my overly sensitive skin would react to the cream. However, thanks to the natural ingredients my skin felt completely fine.

The Verdict

I’ve been using Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration cream at night for several months. My skin definitely feels a lot better and the dry patches on my face have more or less completely cleared up. The cream is suitable for all skin types as it isn’t fragranced and doesn’t contain any ingredients that could irritate the skin. I just wish that this product had been invented a few years earlier.

So thanks again to Brodie Skin Care for sending me a bottle of Recovery Phase Rehydration cream to test out and review. For more information on Brodie Skin Care please visit.

Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream is available from Brodie Skin Care and selected online retailers and has a RRP of £17.95. I personally think that this is amazing value for money.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a bottle of Brodie Skin Care Recovery Phase Rehydration Cream for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions are my own**

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 2

I’ve just realised that I’ve scheduled this training update so that it will be published at some point on Boxing Day. I hope that everyone managed to eat as much as I did yesterday. Running for 30 minutes later on today will be a little challenging.Collage 3Following a slightly lazy rest day on Monday, the second week of my half marathon training saw me complete an easy 30 minute on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a speed session lasting 30 minutes on Saturday and a slightly longer five mile run on Sunday.

So how did my slightly temperamental and rather injury-prone body cope with four training runs?

Monday – Rest

For some reason, when I woke up on Monday morning, I felt as gloomy as the weather. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I decided that the best course of action was to be productive and to keep myself busy. After a healthy breakfast of Ricicles – I can’t believe Kellogg’s are getting rid of one of my favourite childhood cereals – I walked the short distance to the local train station and headed into Lichfield.

Once I’d collected my ‘Black Friday’ shopping from Dorothy Perkins and I’d worked out how to deposit all of my 2017 ‘roadkill’ finds in the coin machine in HSBC, I decided to treat myself to an early lunch in McDonald’s. I was just tucking into my McChicken sandwich when I spotted that Helen had tagged me in a tweet. Helen was letting me know that this blog had won the fitness category of the Myprotein Fitness Awards 2017. Thanks for letting me know Helen.

Tuesday – 30 mins easy

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, I dragged myself out of bed and looked outside. It looked quite icy, so I decided to delay my run until the evening when it was meant to be slightly warmer. I had a reasonably productive day and spent several hours analysing river flow data and working on my discharge-rich rivers paper. At 18:00 I decided that I’d done enough work and got ready for my training run.

As an injury prone runner, I try to enjoy and to appreciate every run. Unfortunately, my 30 minute run on Tuesday evening was not enjoyable. I set out at a ridiculous, unsustainable pace and felt shattered after five minutes, so much for an ‘easy’ run. I found virtually everyone and everything irritating, and had to wait for what felt like ages to cross the main road. Although the top of my left foot didn’t hurt while I was running, it felt a little niggly when I got home.Collage 4

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

As I like to leave 24 hours between each run, I worked out that I wouldn’t be able to run until after my music lesson. After a sneaky lie in, I spent the morning doing some last minute Christmas present shopping and finished writing my Christmas cards. As my legs were feeling a little tight after my run the previous evening, I changed into some gym gear, rolled out and dusted off my yoga mat and braved my foam roller for the first time since the Great Birmingham Run. Once I’d finished torturing myself, I worked my way through several of Jasyoga’s five minute reset videos.

My train back from university was so delayed, I didn’t head out on my tempo (?) run until almost 23:00. By this stage I was feeling tired and hungry and my bed looked incredibly inviting. I decided to ‘cheat’ a little with my tempo run, and to run at a sensible pace for the first 10 minutes, speed up for 10 minutes and then slow down for the final 10 minutes. The run was a bit of a disaster and was not what I would call a tempo run. Sorry coach!

Thursday – Rest

It’s a good job that Thursday was a rest day. I felt terrible when I woke up and spent most of the day lying in bed feeling sorry for myself.

Friday – 40 mins cross-training

As I still felt pretty rough on Friday morning, the closest I got to a 40 minute cross-training session was the hour or so I spent doing housework. Fortunately, taking it easy being lazy seemed to do the trick, and I went to bed feeling so much better, I set my alarm for the not too challenging time of 08:00.

Saturday – 30 mins speed work

After a lot of sleep, I felt well enough to attempt some sort of speed work session on Saturday morning. After a quick consultation with my coach – I wonder when he’ll get fed up with my emails – I decided to attempt a simple Fartlek session. As I suspect my family will think I’ve invented the word ‘Fartlek’, it’s a Swedish term meaning ‘speedplay’ that dates back to 1937. I was worried about this session because although I’ve been running since I was young, I wouldn’t call myself an experienced runner. My coach told me to ignore my Garmin, to pick a landmark in the distance such as a lamppost and run to it hard, and then jog until I’ve recovered. Well that was the theory.

The reality was a bit different. The session started well and I completed a five minute slow jog in an attempt to get my legs moving. I then picked a blue bin located about 100m from where I was standing and ‘sprinted’ towards it. Once I’d reached the bin, I picked a second landmark and jogged towards it. I’d forgotten how challenging I find running at anything faster than 10 min/mile pace and was soon feeling shattered. The final 10 minutes were a complete disaster. After having to wait to cross a main road, I’m ashamed to admit that I kind of gave up.

Sunday – 5 miles long run

After spending the morning and early afternoon chilling out and recovering from a slight hangover, I headed out on what I hoped would be a Festive 5 mile run just before 21:00. It was wet, it was windy and I encountered a couple of ‘dodgy’ characters but it was fun. I had originally planned to take some photos of my favourite Christmas lights in Four Oaks but I forgot my phone.

So that’s the second week of my half marathon training completed, there are only another 10 weeks to go.

The third week of my half marathon training plan contains four runs and one cross-training session. I’ve got to complete a 30 minute easy run tomorrow, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 30 minute speed work session on Saturday – hopefully I’ll make it to my local parkrun, and a slightly longer six mile run on Sunday. Today and Thursday are my rest days, and my coach has allocated me a 40 minute cross-training session on Friday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 5
  • Time: 2 hours 56 mins
  • Distance: 16.31 miles

Niggleometer

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