London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 7

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m actually in the office on a Monday, the struggle is real. I think the highlights of my weekend were volunteering at Sutton Park parkrun and completing a longish training run.Collage 15Week 7 of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 20-25 minute run later today, a steady 40 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 50-60 minute run on Thursday, and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After missing far too many training runs due to illness, I was determined to complete the longer run on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the seventh week of my half marathon training? Did my running mojo return? Did my right knee behave itself? Did I manage to avoid injuring myself?

Monday – 20-25 mins easy

The seventh week of my half marathon training started with another visit to the dentist. I was told to avoid eating certain foods – no more crackling for me – and given the great news that I didn’t have to return. I spent what was left of the morning analysing some river flow data and then got changed into some running gear. I headed outside and spent what felt like ages loitering outside my house waiting for my Garmin to function as a GPS.

The run itself felt a lot harder than it should have done, it wasn’t what I would describe as easy. I decided run towards the local shops, this route is quite challenging because the first mile is virtually all uphill. I was amazed that I managed to run up one of my nemesis hills without slowing to a walk. The run down a steepish hill to get back to where I started probably wasn’t sensible. At least I managed to complete a training run.

Tuesday – 40 mins steady

Rather predictably, I was on the receiving end of some ‘Emma doesn’t like Mondays’ type banter at work. I looked back at my timesheets and discovered that I’ve only been in the office once on a Monday since the middle of December. I guess there are some advantages to flexible working. Once I’d gone through my emails and responded to an email inviting me to the official unveiling of Geoff’s portrait, I had a reasonably productive day and didn’t escape until 17:00.

I popped into Waitrose on the way back to my lodgings and stocked up on some essentials including loo roll. During a recent Brexit workshop we were told to stock up on loo roll, rather random but running out would be a nightmare. I got back to my room, lay on my bed and woke up two hours later. So much for having a productive evening. I rather reluctantly got changed into some running gear and headed out into the cold. My rubbish Garmin 235 decided to ‘die’ after five minutes so I had no idea how long I’d been running and what sort of pace I was running at. Knowing me, not for long enough and at the wrong pace.

Wednesday – Rest

My right knee felt a little niggly during the walk into work; luckily Wednesday was a rest day. I checked my emails when I got into the office and discovered that there was a potential sickness bug where I work, what a great way of making everyone imagine they felt unwell. I made sure I avoided the lift and used the antibacterial wipes and gel that had been provided.

Following a reasonably productive day, I left the office with a colleague and spent a couple of hours working on a poster for a conference and also drinking beer. I’m not sure if the beer made us more or less productive. Poster sort of completed, we walked the short distance to the Old Post Office in Wallingford where I’d booked a table.Collage 16The food was amazing but quite expensive; I don’t think I could afford to eat there on a regular basis, definitely more of a rare treat. After demolishing a large portion of fish and chips, I ordered ice cream and instantly regretted my decision because I struggled to finish my final pint. The 15 minute walk back to my lodgings was more than a little uncomfortable. I just hoped I’d simply eaten too much and wasn’t about to be ill.

Thursday – 50-60 mins steady

I’d just eaten too much, phew! Please can someone explain why I always feel hungry the morning after I’ve eaten a huge evening meal? It just doesn’t make much sense to me. Anyway, thanks to some dense fog, the walk into the office was hilarious; at one point I couldn’t actually see where I was going and nearly walked into a hedge. Thanks to a couple of meetings and a ‘lunch and learn’ session, the day flew by.

I got back to my room and spent an hour or so catching up on emails and Holby City. My Garmin was still completely dead and the charging lead over 100 miles away in Four Oaks. This left me with a dilemma; should I run for 50-60 minutes and not worry about the distance or pace, or should I postpone my training run? I decided to run.

I know I’m repeating myself but running can be unpredictable. After finding running for 40 minutes quite difficult, I was a little nervous when I headed out with the aim of running for an hour. The run went reasonably well, I had a slightly scary moment when a car nearly reversed into me, the rest of the run was incident-free. My only minor concern was my right knee which felt quite niggly the second I finished running.

Friday – Rest

How amazing was the weather on Friday, what a difference to the week before. I think most sensible people were out on site visits or on leave because the office was really quiet. The peace and quiet meant that I managed to complete one of the hydrological assessments that I’d been putting off doing for ages.Collage 17I left the office at 15:00 and after a somewhat hectic journey got back home three hours later. The moment I stepped through my front door I went into what I call ‘getting shit done’ mode. I had a lengthy ‘things to do’ list and not much time to get everything done.

Saturday – Rest

For some reason I woke up at 05:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep, slightly frustrating given how tired I’d been feeling when I headed to bed. I decided to make the most of my early start and put on a load of washing and listed some bits and pieces on a Facebook selling page. At 08:00 I headed to Sutton Park parkrun for a spot of volunteering. The weather was perfect for running and although I was completely on my own, I had an enjoyable hour or so hopefully encouraging all the runners and walkers.  Collage 18I left Sutton Park at 11:00 and met up with Vic in Sutton Coldfield. What followed was a slightly stressful 45 minutes looking at mobile phones. Why is buying a mobile phone so complicated? Vic kindly gave me a lift to Mere Green – by this stage it was lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten – and I managed to convince him heading to Bistrot Pierre for lunch was a brilliant idea.Collage 19The rest of Saturday was far more mundane. Think ironing, cooking, getting unwanted running gear ready to post and playing hunt the Garmin charging cable. I eventually found it in the bottom of my wardrobe. I put my Garmin on charge, laid out some running gear and went to bed at a sensible time.

Sunday – 100 mins comfortable 70 mins comfortable

I headed out at 05:30 yesterday morning with the aim of running for 100 minutes, but promised not to beat myself if I had to cut my run short. I did my best to slow my pace down and spent a lot of time checking my Garmin. I’m not sure if it’s because I have long legs, but I seem to find slowing my pace down quite tricky. The first ten minutes or so felt quite tricky; running past the train station knowing I’d be back there 12 hours later was mentally tough. Once I turned onto the main Lichfield Road, I felt like I was running directly into the wind, this slowed me down. After 30 minutes I headed into Mere Green and ran past Bistrot Pierre.

The second half of the run was tough. After 50 minutes of running my right knee started to feel quite sore, so I decided to be sensible and to cut my run short. In the end I ran for 70 minutes, 30 minutes less than the 100 minutes I’d been aiming for. I got home, made myself a cup of tea and spent a chilly 15 minutes icing my right knee. My knee has felt fine since the run, so I’m hopeful it’s nothing too serious.

The rest of the day was quite relaxed, just what I needed. I caused a queue at the local Post Office, I washed my friend’s car, watched the Bristol City v Wolves match and generally chilled out. As always, the weekend seemed to fly by and I rather reluctantly had to travel back down to Wallingford.

So that’s week seven of my half marathon training plan more or less completed. After my Garmin issues, I’ve bought a second Garmin charging cable so I can keep one in Four Oaks and one in Wallingford. I’m starting to feel really concerned about my lack of fitness and stamina. If I don’t nail a couple more long training runs, the panic will be real.

The eighth week of my training plan looks reasonably achievable. The plan recommends that I complete an easy 30 minute run today, a 45 minute steady run on Wednesday, a 5k time trial on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 12
  • Time: 8 hours 57 mins
  • Distance: 50.86 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right wrist: 8/10 (I’ve no idea what I’ve done to it!)

A rather strange question, but have you ever woken up with a random injury? I’ve no idea what I’ve done to my right wrist but it’s incredibly painful at the moment.

Are your local parkruns struggling for volunteers at the moment? I’m not sure if half term was to blame, but quite a few local parkruns really seemed to struggle. Having said that, I didn’t appreciate feeling like I was being pressured into putting my name down to volunteer at next week’s event.

Advertisements

Pretty Athletic skincare review

Good morning and happy Thursday. I can’t believe that it’s almost the weekend again. This year really does seem to be flying by. I’ve got something a little different for you today; my thoughts on some skincare products I’ve been reviewing.

Now you all know that I love running. I love running in the rain, in the snow, when it’s cold and when it’s warm. I won’t lie and say that I love running when it’s hot as my face ends up the same colour as a beetroot. Running is awesome; it boosts my mood and helps me sleep, I’m definitely happier when I’m able to run consistently.Running photo collageUnfortunately, my skin doesn’t appear to be such a fan of my slight running obsession. The last couple of years, my skin has felt dry and at times quite sore, especially when I’ve been running outside. I don’t think the recent cold weather has helped as walking to and from the office five days a week means that my skin has been getting a bit of a battering.

I’ll be 40 in May *gulp* so I think it’s about time I started to take more care of my skin. At the moment, my skincare routine is very much ‘wash and go’ and I don’t have a clue when it comes to skincare products. I was therefore excited but also a little apprehensive when I was given the opportunity to select an item from the Pretty Athletic skincare range to test out and review. I didn’t have a clue which item to choose and selected an item based on its name. I was delighted when the following products arrived in the post:

  • Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser
  • Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic
  • Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

Now that I’ve been using the Pretty Athletic skincare products for a month or so, I feel that I’m able to produce a hopefully useful product review.

Before I look at each product in turn, I’d like to provide a bit of information about the Pretty Athletic skincare brand.

An Introduction to Pretty Athletic skincare

Pretty Athletic skincare was founded by Leyla Cooper.  Leyla explains that Pretty Athletic came about when, rushing back to work after a lunchtime workout, she realised that there was a lack of products and advice relating to what to use on her skin before and after exercise. Leyla also noticed that while skincare brands love to put ‘sport’ on products like shower gel to market them at men, there weren’t any skincare brands that addressed the needs of active women.

Let’s face it, women sweat too!

Pretty Athletic skincare is free from gimmicks. From product conception, to formulation and testing, every product has to meet the specific skincare needs of active women. The Pretty Athletic skincare range is 95% natural, vegan and packed with scientifically-proven actives. With six products currently available and more being developed, Pretty Athletic aim to be the go-to brand for active women.

As a keen runner with sensitive, dry and I suspect rapidly aging skin, I couldn’t wait to try out the three products I’d been sent. So how did I get on?

The review process

I’m aware that I’m repeating myself but I’m a complete novice when it comes to skincare products. I don’t have a clue when to actually use different types of skincare products; luckily Pretty Athletic provide guidance on when each of their products should be used. Thanks Pretty Athletic, this stopped me getting my moisturiser mixed up with my tonic.

Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser

“Lightweight and easily absorbed, this cooling gel body moisturiser is a beautifully refreshing way to hydrate. Formulated with Sasha Inchi Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and Black Oats to deeply hydrate the skin. Rich in soothing Aloe Vera, and infused with nourishing vitamins and antioxidants. A patented multi-mineral complex revitalises and energizes the skin” Hydration KickThe Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser was the first product I tried out. I massaged a load into my face and then panicked when I read the bottle and spotted that it clearly says ‘body’ moisturiser. Sometimes I’m such an idiot! Fortunately, although my face felt cool, my skin didn’t react and I was able to go to work the following morning.

After that initial hiccup, I’ve been using the body moisturiser after my nightly shower and I love it. The moisturiser is lightweight and easily absorbed. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way; I have a feeling that the bottle will last me a long time. Finally, although I have sensitive skin, the moisturiser didn’t cause any skin irritation, even when I accidentally applied it to my face. I’ll definitely be treating myself to more when this bottle runs out.

Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic

“This beautiful rose water tonic enriched with gentle coconut-derived cleansers and vital skin nutrients is a super quick way of achieving clean, nourished and hydrated skin in one simple step. Lightweight Hyaluronic Acid and botanical extracts of Rose and Calendula help to leave the skin feeling perfectly balanced. Vitamin E and Niacinamide nourish and provide antioxidant benefits. Use pre & post workout”Workout GlowOnce I’d recovered from applying body moisturiser to my face, I felt brave enough to test out the Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic. I made sure that I read and re-read the packaging, Pretty Athletic recommend cleansing your skin before and after exercise, spraying the Vitamin Tonic onto your face, and then wiping off any excess with a cotton pad.

I first applied the Vitamin Tonic after a long run, it was definitely quite cooling, almost a little too cooling. I think I’ll save the Vitamin Tonic for Summer 2019, hopefully its cooling properties will reduce the amount of time I spend looking like a beetroot. A runner can always hope.

Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

“A lightweight serum-oil, rich in phytosterols and high levels of antioxidants that helps to restore the skin barrier and fight the signs of environmental damage. Contains 0.5% Vitamin A Palmitate, 0.5% Vitamin E and 1% Vitamin C as well as the active Phytoserene which has a proven capacity to improve the skin’s barrier effect after stress, improve skin moisturisation, and help diminish skin redness after stress”Recovery BoostThe final product I tried was the Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. This product is designed to repair and to soothe so I thought it would be perfect after a long run. Pretty Athletic recommend that it is applied to dry skin, at night.

The first time I used the Repair Serum I suspect I applied too much as my skin felt slightly greasy. A little definitely goes a long way. Now that I’ve sussed out how much Repair Serum to apply, I’ve incorporated it into my nightly post-shower routine. After less than a month’s use, my skin feels a lot smoother and is not as dry as it was.

The Verdict

Once I’d worked out when to use each product, I felt confident enough to try out the Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. I also appreciated getting the opportunity to find out how to look after my skin more both before and after I’ve been running. I did, however, find myself questioning if we really need special skincare products for sport. Are the standard moisturisers and other skincare products in my bathroom cabinet capable of looking after my skin? I’ve genuinely got no idea. What I do know is that the Pretty Athletic products didn’t irritate my sensitive skin. My skin is in better condition than it has done in years, the products are now part of my skincare routine.

So thanks again to Pretty Athletic for sending me three products from your skincare range to test out and review. For more information on Pretty Athletic please visit their website. Pretty Athletic skincare is available from a range of retailers and items in the skincare collection start from £15.50. You can also purchase items direct from Pretty Athletic.

**Full disclosure: Pretty Athletic sent me a bottle of Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always, all dodgy photographs and opinions are my own**

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 6

Happy(ish) Monday. I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. My weekend didn’t go to plan because I spent Saturday morning at the dentist. I can talk and eat again now so the torture session was worthwhile.Collage 14Week 6 and the halfway stage of my half marathon training plan was described as a taper week with a mini target race. The plan recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a faster 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday, a slow 15 minute run on Saturday and a 10k race or time trial on Sunday. As I’d already entered the Birmingham Winter 10k, I originally planned to switch Saturdays and Sundays sessions around. Unfortunately, my tooth meant that I DNS the Birmingham Winter 10k.

So how did I cope during the sixth week of my half marathon training? Did starting the week with a long run cause me any issues? Did the snow in Wallingford cause any problems? Did I manage to complete my training runs?

Monday – 30 mins easy

Thanks to inadvertently destroying one of my back teeth, I had to take the day off as last minute annual leave. Not the best way to spend annual leave but it meant that I got to run in the daylight. I decided to be sensible and to run before I went to the dentist so after spending an uncomfortable 30 minutes working out how much money I spent on running last year, I got changed and headed out the door.

I think it’s safe to say I got my pacing completely wrong.  I always seem to run too fast when it’s light outside, perhaps I need to stick to running in the dark. The ‘easy’ run felt anything but easy and the final 10 minutes were very much a case of ‘hanging on’ and trying not to slow to a walk. Not the most positive start to week six of my training.

Tuesday – 25 mins fast Rest

To add insult to injury, my fragile right knee felt quite niggly during the 30 minute walk into the office. Only I could potentially injure myself during a not-so-positive training run. Work was quite busy so the day seemed to fly by, always a massive bonus. It felt like one minute I was catching-up on my emails, the next it was time to head back home. As my knee still felt a little niggly during the walk back from work, I decided attempting a 25 minute speed session would be asking for disaster.

Wednesday – Rest

Once again, the working day seemed to fly by. I think having to focus the majority of my attention on technical hydrology work really helps. If I allow myself to get distracted, I make mistakes and end up repeating calculations. After 12 months I’ve worked out that listening to music really helps me focus. By 17:00 I’d had enough and started to walk back towards my lodgings with a colleague. We somehow found ourselves enjoying a quick drink. As I’d only had a small lunch, I managed to convince my colleague to join me for another meal in Delhi Brasserie. The food tasted amazing, it’s just a shame my stomach doesn’t seem to cope very well with spicy food. Without going into too much detail, I had a bit of a rough night.

Thursday – 45 mins steady

I had another productive day, partly because the office was almost completely empty. I had an entertaining few minutes when, thanks to a rather random work task relating to personal security, I had to Google my name. I found a strange combination of dodgy running photos, race results, social media rants, academic research and random planning applications. Having to tell one of my colleagues about this blog was a little awkward.

Managing to mess up my run on Monday completely knocked my confidence. I felt slightly apprehensive as I got ready for my run on Thursday evening; it took me a long time to get out the door. I decided to wear one of the reflective running headbands Kimberley very kindly sent me to test out. I’ll be writing a more detailed review later this week, please check out this Etsy shop. I’m not sure how I’d describe the 45 minute run; I’d probably award myself a C+. Although I managed to avoid starting at an unsustainable pace, I found parts of the run far more challenging than I should six weeks into my half marathon training.

Friday – Rest

I got drenched walking into the office and spent the morning struggling to dry out and to get warm. After a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00, and then got drenched for a second time walking through the centre of Oxford. I kept telling myself that after a dry January we need the rain…  Following a straightforward journey – I even got a seat on the local train – I headed straight to my favourite Chinese restaurant. Some habits are quite difficult to break.

Saturday – Rest

At 10:00 I found myself not on the start line of the Birmingham Winter 10k, but in my dentist’s waiting room. The hour I spent getting my tooth repaired being tortured wasn’t the highlight of my Saturday. I left the dentist and headed into Sutton with a slightly numb face. I managed to only buy what I needed and made it back home before the local anaesthetic I’d been given stopped working. After a quick recovery nap, I spent a productive hour sorting through my running gear. I listed a couple of pairs of leggings I’m never going to wear on the RMR second hand selling page. Both sold quickly, so I took them to the Post Office while it was still light. I got home, vacuumed the house and then sat down in front of the British Athletics Indoor Championships. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears!

Sunday – 10k race or time trial 60 mins easy

I decided to go back to the approach I used last year; setting my alarm for 05:00 and running before I could change my mind. As I wanted to enjoy my run and didn’t want to spend most of the time obsessively checking my pace, I decided to leave my Garmin at home and to run for an hour. Back to basics. I think this approach worked as I managed to run at a steady pace for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, thanks to a cunningly hidden puddle, my trainers got soaked in the first 10 minutes and felt like planks of wood. I think it may be time to treat my feet to a new pair. The rest of Sunday felt like it lasted five minutes. The weekends need to slow down a little.

So that’s week six of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I’m feeling a little underprepared at the moment and can’t believe I’ve reached the half-way stage of my training plan. Hopefully this time next week I’ll feel slightly more confident, at the moment I don’t feel like I could complete a half marathon.

I’m aware that I said this last time I followed this training plan, but I think week seven looks more than a little bit challenging. The training plan recommends that I complete a steady 20-25 minute run today, a steady 40 minute run tomorrow, a steady 50-60 minute run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I don’t want to talk myself out of my training plan, but I suspect I’ll struggle.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 5 hours 47 mins
  • Distance: 33 miles

 Niggleometer

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

If you blog, do your work colleagues know about your blog? Trying to explain the whole concept of blogging to a colleague was a little uncomfortable. I’m not even sure my family know about this blog.

How many miles do you wear your trainers for before you replace them? Brooks Adrenalines are meant to last between 300 and 500 mile. I’m a little disappointed my most recent pair only lasted 320 miles. I’m so injury-prone I don’t want to risk running in uncomfortable trainers.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 5

Happy Monday! I’m not in the office today because I’ve got an emergency dentist appointment this afternoon. I hope that you all had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was escaping from a very snowy Wallingford and actually managing to complete a training run.Collage 11Week five of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training – the mid schedule peak – recommended that I completed an easy half hour run after work today, a 20-25 minute speed session on Thursday, a steady 50 minute run on Friday and a longer 90 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After not running for three weeks I was desperate to run.

So how did I find the fifth week of my training? Did I manage to run? Did the weather cause any issues?

Monday – 30 mins easy

My first Monday in the office this year seemed to fly by. One minute I was completing my weekly time recording, the next I was getting ready to head back home. I’m thrilled to report that after missing so many training sessions I’ve lost count, I managed to complete a training run. Although it was dark and cold and I had to play dodge the pedestrian far too many times, I enjoyed every second of my 30-minute run. The run felt relatively easy and gave me a much-needed confidence boost. It’s just a shame the weather forecast for Wallingford for the rest of the week didn’t look very positive.

Tuesday – Rest

I had an incredibly productive day at work as I was the only person in the office from my team. Luckily, I wasn’t completely on my own as a couple of people were hotdesking near me. The weather was so nice I headed out for a chilly but enjoyable stroll around Howbery Park at lunchtime. I think it’s always good to get some fresh air; if I was more organised, I’d run at lunchtime. After an enjoyable afternoon of data analysis, I left the office and got completely drenched walking back to my new lodgings. I think I would have preferred snow.

Wednesday – Rest

The rain and sleet turned to ice overnight. As I didn’t want to fall over during my walk into the office, I slowed down and did my best impression of a penguin. I tried and failed to take some decent photos of Wallingford. Most of my team were back in the office which was good as I had someone to talk to. The highlight of the day was having my contract extended by three months. The extension to my contract means that I won’t be unemployed at the end of March. It means I’ll also have a bit more time to find a permanent job.

Thursday – 20-25 mins fast

I had an amazing Thursday. According to the BBC – not very accurate – weather App, it was -6°C when I walked into work. I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure my face would drop off in -6°C! As always, I seemed to spend far too much time taking photos of the River Thames and the Riverside Park. Wallingford is definitely far, far more scenic than Four Oaks.Collage 12Work was great; a team meeting, lunch at the Waterfront Cafe in Benson and then an enjoyable training session. I left the office at 17:00, got back to my lodgings, changed into some running gear and headed out into the cold. The 25 minute run definitely wasn’t what I would call fast but it was enjoyable. I got back, got changed and then walked to the George for a drink with my landlady. The walk back in heavy snow took us both by surprise.

Friday – 50 mins steady Rest

I woke up to a lot more snow than I expected! I half expected the office to be closed but it wasn’t. I saw that more snow was forecast and spent a couple of minutes trying to decide what to do. It was very much a case of should I stay or should I go.

I contacted my line manager to say I was heading back home to Four Oaks and would work from home. I took some snowy photos in Bull Croft Park and then spent a chilly 45 minutes waiting for a bus.Collage 13The rest of the journey was straightforward and there was no sign of any snow when I got back home. I had a reasonably productive afternoon of reading and number crunching and then treated myself to a takeaway from my favourite Chinese. After eating far too much I decided to delay my 50 minute run until Saturday morning.

Saturday – Rest 42 mins at a stupid pace

I debated heading to Sutton Park parkrun, but I’m lazy and my warm bed was more inviting than a chilly park! Unfortunately the pavements were a bit dodgy first thing in the morning so I headed out with the aim of running for 50 minutes at lunchtime. There were still a few slightly dicey patches but conditions were generally pretty good. I enjoyed running in daylight for the first time in ages but didn’t enjoy playing dodge the dogs. I’m not sure why, but I really struggled to run at a sensible pace and ultimately paid the price. Thanks to my stupidity and asthma, I had to stop running to get my breathing under control after 30 minutes. I started running again but felt so rough I decided to head back home. I guess 42 minutes is an improvement on zero minutes. The highlight of my Saturday– I’m easily pleased – was watching Wolves beat Everton; it’s always amusing when an animal on the pitch stops play.

Sunday – 90 mins comfortable Rest

When I started writing this running blog in 2013, I aimed to keep it real.  I wanted to share my dodgy running photos and the trials and tribulations of my life. In spite of this, I’m a little ashamed to confess that I didn’t complete my 90 minute training run yesterday because I didn’t feel like running. The thought of spending over an hour running in the cold just wasn’t tempting. Gone are the days I took my training far too seriously and used running as a strange form of punishment, running is my hobby and I run for fun. I’m hoping my running mojo returns this week.

So that’s week five of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I can’t believe there are only another seven weeks to go. Although week five was 100 per cent more successful than weeks two, three and four, I’m a little concerned about my fitness levels and the longer runs I’ve missed.

The sixth week of my training plan is described as a taper week with a mini target race. The training plan recommends I complete a 10k race or time trail on Sunday. I’ve already entered the Birmingham 10k Winter Run on Saturday so I’ll switch my Saturday and Sunday training runs around. I’ve also got to complete an easy half hour run on Monday, a ‘fast’ 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday and a slow 15 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 6
  • Time: 3 hours 32 mins
  • Distance: 20.25 miles

 Niggleometer

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

The ballot for the Royal Parks Half Marathon opened this week. Are you going to stick your name in the virtual ballot hat? I read through my race report from last year, saw how much it costs and decided not to bother. I’ve had my turn.

Do you find running in the cold difficult? I love running when it’s cold, it’s just a shame the cold air seems to be triggering my asthma at the moment.

Did you get much snow where you live? Wallingford had loads, Four Oaks had hardly any.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 3

Thanks for all the lovely comments on my last training update. I’m feeling a lot better now, not 100 per cent but well enough to function as a hydrologist.collage 7After failing to complete any training runs last week, I briefly considered repeating the second week of my half marathon training plan. I decided not to because week three didn’t look too challenging. So, week three – the first ‘building’ week – suggested that I completed an easy half hour jog on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Thursday, a 20/25 minute speed session on Friday, and a longer 70-75 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the third week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training? Did my cough and cold clear up? Did I manage to complete any training runs?

Monday – 30 mins easy jog Rest

I’d originally booked Monday off as flexi-leave and was looking forward to a longer weekend. I had every intention of completing a couple of job applications, some housework and generally having a productive day. My flexi-leave unfortunately became sick leave and I spent most of the day in bed.

Tuesday – Rest

I’m aware I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but after spending most of the night and early morning coughing for Great Britain, I contacted my line manager to say I wasn’t feeling well enough to return to work. I had no energy and felt and looked terrible. After spending most of the day building up the energy to complete some slightly overdue adulting tasks, I packed my bags – leaving my trainers behind in Four Oaks was a little upsetting – and started the journey back to Wallingford. I only made it as far as the bottom of my road before I felt so dizzy I decided to head back home. That night, my cough made sure that I didn’t get much sleep.

Wednesday – Rest

Knowing that I had to travel back to Wallingford in the afternoon seemed to trigger some sort of random relapse. One minute I felt okay, the next minute I felt terrible. For a couple of hours I had a tiny insight into how Geoff felt last year. Geoff never complained about this throat, not even after his radiation therapy when he couldn’t swallow. I guess I need to be more like Geoff, I definitely wish I had his positive attitude and hydrology brain. I left Four Oaks in the afternoon and arrived back in Wallingford far too many hours later. I dumped my bags in my room and then finalised the details of my new accommodation. After spending a year living in a noisy shared house, I can’t wait to move out tomorrow.

Thursday – 50 mins steady Rest

Thanks to my laziness and excessive use of the snooze button, I managed to avoid walking into the office in a mini snowstorm. Although my colleagues were a little surprised to see me, it felt great to be back in the office. Following a reasonably productive day, one of my colleagues very kindly gave me a lift back to my shared house. I got into my room and managed an impressive power nap. I was unfortunately kept awake until gone midnight – even my earplugs failed to block out the noise – by the two people who have moved into the room next to me. I can’t wait to move out!

Friday – 20-25 mins fast Rest

The walk into the office was a tad on the chilly side, and by the time I reached the office my cough had made an unwelcome return. It’s a good job the office was virtually empty, as at one stage I was actually irritating myself. After what felt like the shortest working week ever – I guess I was only in the office for a couple of days – I started the journey back home and ordered myself a takeaway from my favourite Chinese restaurant as a treat. At one stage I felt so much better I briefly considered heading out on a run. The ten minute walk back from the station made me realise running in the cold air wasn’t an option.

Saturday – Rest

Although I felt like pants and had very little energy, I managed to have a reasonably productive day. I think the highlight of my Saturday was watching Wolves beat Leicester City. I had originally planned on heading to the National Running Show at the NEC, but decided to be sensible and stopped at home. Much as I wanted to attend the show, I didn’t feel well enough to spend several hours in a crowded giant expo. When I saw that the local trains weren’t running due to some escaped animals, I knew that I’d made the right decision.

Hopefully the National Running Show will return to the NEC next year. It will be a case of third time lucky.

Sunday – 70-75 mins comfortable Rest

Another day another missed long slow training run! Just vacuuming the house left me feeling shattered so I know I made the right decision. With every missed training run, I can feel my fitness levels disappearing. I definitely can’t imagine running a half marathon in March. So that’s the third week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon not completed. I’m trying not to worry about missing loads of training runs but it’s getting difficult. I keep telling myself that having a virus is a million times better than being injured.

In theory, week four of my half marathon training plan contains four training runs. After missing two weeks of training I suspect that the reality may be a little different. To be honest, I’d be happy just to run once. I’ve got to complete a steady 45 minute run tomorrow, an hour long easy run on Wednesday, a steady 45 minute run on Friday and a longer 80 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday.

Training totals

  •  Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hour 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

Niggleometer

  •  Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 1/10
  • Right foot: 1/10

Did you go to the National Running Show? I’m not sure I would have headed to the NEC even if I had been feeling better. I looked at the list of exhibitors and wasn’t that impressed.

Have you ever missed a couple of weeks of training? I’m starting to feel a little bit concerned about my lack of running.    

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 2

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. Thanks to the lurgy, my weekend wasn’t the best; I didn’t even leave the house. I’m still feeling terrible this morning; fortunately I’d already booked the day off as flexi.  collage 5Week two of my half marathon training plan – getting started – recommended that I completed an easy half hour run on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday and finally, a steady 60 minute run on Sunday, After struggling to complete my first long run due a complete loss of fitness, I was a little concerned about the second week of training.

So how did I get on during the second week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to complete all my training runs? Did I manage to run at all?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

It felt quite good to be back in the office. I think I’m the type of person who needs routine. I spent the morning working my way through 300+ emails and completing a spot of time recording. Lunchtime involved some last-minute presentation preparation as I’d agreed to fill in for a colleague who was off work. Midway through the afternoon, I noticed that my throat felt a little ‘odd’ and my head felt more fuzzy than usual. By the time I got back to my shared house I’d accepted that running was completely out of the question. My head was pounding, and I felt terrible. The noise my housemates were making did nothing to improve my mood. It got so bad – think living with a couple of elephants – I sent off a couple of enquiries about alternative rooms. At least the Wolves v Liverpool match cheered me up a little.

Tuesday – 50 mins steady Rest

I woke up feeling terrible and weighed up the pros and cons of travelling to Reading to help deliver a training session. I decided I couldn’t let my colleague down and headed into Reading. Spending two hours in a hot and crowded room was a struggle, and I spent most of the time trying not to cough, but I think our presentation went well. After a far too quick drink (of coke) with a colleague I hadn’t seen in almost ten years, I found myself running to catch the bus back to Wallingford. After running for the bus left me coughing and struggling to breathe I realised that running when I got back to Wallingford was completely out of the question. What a rubbish start to the second week of my training. I guess being ill is better than being injured.

Wednesday – Rest

The thirty minute or so walk into the office was a tad on the chilly side, and I regretted leaving my hat and gloves at home in Four Oaks. A slight adulating fail as people warned me that Wallingford was cold when I moved here last year. Benson – across the road from my office – seems to feature on BBC Weather’s tweets on a regular basis.

While I didn’t feel or sound unwell, I had an irritating tickly throat and nose thing going on all day. I spent most of the day trying not to cough as I could tell I was annoying my colleagues. I also wanted to give my throat chance to recover. After a pretty shitty day, something incredibly positive happened in the evening. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Thursday – 45 mins steady Rest

After spending most of the night and early morning trying and failing not to cough too much, I actually felt slightly better when one of my housemates woke me up at 05:30. Not well enough to run but well enough to go into work. Although I felt ok, I sounded terrible and spent most of the day either coughing or trying to avoid coughing. Fortunately, the office was reasonably quiet otherwise I would have irritated a lot of people.collage 6I left work early and headed back to my shared house with the intention of having a nap. Not a chance! I know I sound like a broken record, but the people I live with aren’t exactly quiet. At one point the noise got so bad I headed to the Boat House pub as I needed some peace and quiet. I’m not convinced drinking a pint of ice cold coke helped my throat, but the peace and quiet helped my head.

Friday – Rest

I spent the grand total 35 minutes in the office before I admitted defeat and told my line manager I wasn’t feeling well enough to be at work. I couldn’t stop coughing and felt terrible. The journey back home was a bit of a struggle; at least I wasn’t the only person on the train coughing. I got home, stuck a load of washing in the machine and then headed to bed. That was about as productive as the day got. In an attempt to make myself feel better, I ordered a takeaway from my favourite Chinese, and struggled to eat more than a couple of mouthfuls. The rest of Friday was incredibly mundane!

Saturday – Rest

Saturday was a complete write-off, such a waste of a day. I did, however, learn a valuable lesson; don’t drink a bottle of milkshake when you have a bad and slightly unpredictable cough. My post-milkshake coughing fit almost got very messy.

Sunday – 60 mins steady Rest

After a slightly disturbed night and early morning, I didn’t feel well enough to get out of bed until lunchtime. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I hate feeling unwell. I had zero appetite and no energy. I did do a spot of research into the pros and cons of running with a cold – yes I am stupid – but decided staying in bed was the safer option.cold running

[Source]

So that’s week two of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training not at all completed. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a whole week of training in the past, but I’m not going to worry about the missed runs. I’ve got no idea how some runners seem to run with coughs and colds, I struggled to walk into the office.

Week three of my London Landmarks half marathon training plan will hopefully see me complete at least one run! I’m meant to be completing a 30 minute easy run today, a steady 50 minute run on Thursday, a 20-35 minute speed session on Friday, and a longer 70-75 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hour 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right foot: 2/10 (my right foot has been a little niggly, I’ve no idea why!)

Did you have a good weekend? I hope that everyone who reads this actually made it outside!

Do you have any tips for getting rid of irritating, tickly coughs? I’ve tried honey and lemon, gargling with salt water, three types of cough medicine and a lot of cough/throat sweets.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 1

I hope that you all had a great weekend. When this blog is published, I’ll be back in the office for the first time since December 21st. As quite a few people seem to enjoy reading my weekly training updates, I’ve decided to share my training progress in the lead up to the London Landmarks Half Marathon. I suspect the next three months will be quite challenging as my temporary contract comes to an end the week after the half marathon.collage 1Week one of my 12-week half marathon training plan – getting started – recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Tuesday, an easy 30 minute run on Thursday, a brisk 25 minute run on Friday and a steady hour long run on Sunday. After eating (and drinking) far, far too much over the festive period, I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t be able to complete five training runs!

So how did I find the first week of my half marathon training? Did I avoid getting injured? Did I manage to complete all five training runs?

Monday – 30 mins steady

My alarm went off at 07:00 and after spending a couple of minutes debating getting out of bed, I decided to treat myself to a bit of a lie in. I eventually dragged myself out of bed and headed out on my 30 minute run just after 09:00. The run wasn’t great as I felt unfit and quite sluggish; the final five minutes were a bit of a struggle. I blamed the fact I’d spent the last ten days eating and drinking far, far too much. I need my fitness to improve ASAP.

Once I’d recovered, I had a reasonably productive day. I caught up on some slightly overdue blog related admin and tidied the house. I spent a couple of hours drafting out a job application and had an enjoyable afternoon nap. I treated myself to one last Chinese takeaway and spent New Year’s Eve doing very little. I went to bed well before midnight and then struggled to sleep. I estimate that I probably slept for less than three hours.

Tuesday – Rest

Happy New Year! I should have completed a steady 50 minute run, but after getting very limited sleep, I decided to swap some of my training sessions around. I didn’t have a hangover, I just felt so tired I knew running would have been a struggle. I spent the morning doing very little. In the afternoon, I decided I needed some fresh air so I walked through Sutton Park into Sutton Coldfield.collage 2I popped into TK Maxx and bought a diary, Moleskine notebook and sports bra. I love shopping for random bits and pieces. I’m a little ashamed to admit that when I escaped TK Maxx, I popped into Mc Donald’s. While I was eating my healthy snack I shared an idea that had been floating around in my head all day:

I switched off twitter and walked the three miles back home. When I checked twitter, I discovered that my idea had been liked and retweeted by a lot of people. Most people seemed to love my idea. I just need to remember to stick £1 in my ‘running fund’ every time I run!

Wednesday – 50 mins steady Rest

Switching my training sessions around didn’t work out very well because thanks to yet another headache, I felt far too unwell to run on Wednesday. I popped into Mere Green to buy a money tin from the pound shop and paid some Christmas cheques into my bank. I spent the remainder of the day lying in bed trying to get rid of my migraine. Such a waste of a day of annual leave.

Thursday – 30 mins easy Rest

I woke up feeling a million times better; a good thing as I’d arranged to meet dad and his wife for lunch. Having to turn down lunch due to a migraine would have been pretty devastating. I spent the morning working on a job application and then headed across to Lichfield Trent Valley to meet dad. After a quick cup of tea, dad drove us the short distance to The Royal Oak in Kings Bromley.collage 3The food was amazing and I ate so much, the short journey back was a little uncomfortable. I briefly considered running when I got back to Four Oaks three hours later, but I felt far, far too full to even contemplate pulling on my trainers. A poor excuse I know!

Friday – 25 mins brisk

After ranting about my Garmin 235 in my latest set of rants and raves, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I discovered that both of my Garmin watches had gone completely flat. Talk about poor planning. I had a couple of options; to run ‘naked’ or to charge my Garmin and run later. As I didn’t want to delay my run – there’s always a danger I won’t run at all if I do this – I decided to opt for the naked option. Although it was so cold I found it quite hard to breathe, I really, really enjoyed my run. When I got back, I stuck a pound coin in my ‘running fund’ pot, hopefully the first of many pound coins.

Saturday – Rest

I felt a little gloomy on Saturday as I realised that it was my last full day at home in Four Oaks. The thought of returning to a shared house didn’t do much to cheer me up. Silly of me when I know I’ll miss Wallingford when my temporary contract ends in March. My morning improved when mum collected me and drove us to Chase Farm Shop. A sensible person would have ordered a small breakfast; I managed to order and work my way through a huge Farmers breakfast. The healthy eating starts next week.

The journey back was a little stressful as mums car started to sound like a tractor and then lost power. Luckily, we just about made it back home. After a slightly mundane afternoon of washing, ironing and housework, I spent the evening chilling out in front of the TV catching up on my guilty TV habit; Holby City. I also remembered to enter the Birmingham 10k Winter Warmer Run which takes place in Sutton Park next month. I’m hoping that I’ll feel slightly less wobbly after some consistent running.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace

The weather yesterday morning was perfect for running; not too cold, sunny, dry and not too windy. I found my mile warm-up jog to meet up with Ellen a little harder than I would have liked. I think it’s going to take time to get my fitness levels back to where they were in October.

Ellen was aiming to complete a six mile run as part of her half marathon training, so we decided to aim for 60 minutes as a starting point. We walked the short distance into Sutton Park, had a quick discussion about where we wanted to run and then headed towards the Jamboree Stone. We reached the Jamboree Stone and stopped for a bit of a breather. Ellen suggested we ran the majority of the parkrun route, starting with the slightly soul destroying out and back section to and from the Jamboree Stone.Just running up one short hill left me feeling like I needed a long sit down.collage 4Luckily, the next section towards the finish of parkrun was down hill, there is no way I could have carried on running in an uphill direction! We reached the finish of parkrun, paused our Garmins and walked the short distance to where parkrun starts. Once we were back on track so to speak, we started to run again and continued to run until we reached the bottom of the ‘Hill of Doom’. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I had to power walk up the hill as my legs felt like jelly. We reached the end of the parkrun route, worked out how much longer we needed to run for and headed back towards where we started.

Ten minutes later, I was able to stop running as I’d been running for an hour. I wouldn’t call the run ‘comfortable’ but it was enjoyable and that’s what matters. The rest of the day felt a little rushed as I had to travel back down to Wallingford. I guess all good things (holidays) have to come to an end.

So that’s week one of my half marathon training plan not really completed. Like last time, I know that I’m going to have to adapt the training plan to suit my needs and somewhat fragile body. I just hope that I start to feel a little fitter ASAP! Only another 11 weeks to go.

Week two of the training plan contains four training runs and three rest and recovery days. I’ve got to complete an easy half hour run after work, a 50 minute steady run tomorrow, a 45 minute steady run on Thursday and an hour long run on Sunday. I’m hoping to make it to Sutton Park on Sunday. At the moment, just thinking about running after work is making me feel quite tired. After two weeks doing very little at home, I need to get back into some sort of routine again.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hour 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 1/10

Did you have a good New Year’s Eve? I used to love New Year’s Eve when I worked at a pub. Since then, I’ve not really seen much point in getting plastered and then waking up feeling terrible.

Do you think rewarding running is a good idea? When I shared my slightly daft idea on twitter, I didn’t expect my tweet to be quite so popular.

A slightly random one, do you find it hard going back to work after a break? I don’t think I’ve ever felt this anxious about going back to work before.