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.

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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.  

Rants and Raves #32

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as I needed a break from completing a slightly tedious job application. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. I’m not looking forward to returning to my shared house. As a result, this blog may be slightly more ranty than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Christmas

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas, mine was reasonably positive. I managed to eat and drink far too much and spent some quality time with my parents. I like to think that my parsley stuffing balls were the highlight of our Christmas dinner. Actually, I think the turkey was the highlight; I love turkey and all the trimmings.Christmas 2018Christmas Day was actually quite a low-key event as there were only three of us. Boxing Day was a bit challenging at times, and I ended up in the local pub in the evening having a quiet drink. I found being surrounded by large groups of people a little difficult. I didn’t get to see a lot of my family, but will hopefully see them sooner rather than later.

Rant: Festive food shaming

One of the not-so-positive aspects of Christmas is what I call the festive food shaming. I hadn’t even digested my Christmas meal or eaten any sherry trifle when I spotted this on twitter. I can’t remember who shared it.  Christmas food shamingWhy do people (and some organisations who should really know better) feel the need to share this sort of rubbish? Maybe I’m just as bad for sharing it on my blog. I don’t want to know how far I’d need to run to burn off my Christmas meal. Talk about encouraging unhealthy eating habits.

Unfortunately, running related brands weren’t the only culprits. I spotted this Spillers advert on Boxing Day.SpillersI’m off to run three marathons and then to ride a random horse for a couple of days!

Rave: TK Maxx bargains

I’ve said it before, but I love TK Maxx and its randomness. I love finding hidden gems and the occasional pair of trousers that actually fit. Having said that, I also love the fact it’s now relatively easy to find bargainous running gear online – my local store has always had a slightly disappointing Activewear section.TK MaxxMy brother and sister-in-law very kindly gave me £40 of TK Maxx vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Although I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more running gear, I couldn’t not buy the 2XU leggings I spotted in the red sticker sale. I mean it would have been rude not to buy them as they were so cheap. I bought a couple of sizes to try on and must remember to return one pair. I’m good at buying things and forgetting to return them.

Rant: My Garmin 235

I’m aware that I’ve moaned about my Garmin 235 before and I’ve tried really hard to make myself like it, but I’m still not a fan. I don’t know if mine is faulty but the battery life is rubbish, it takes 5+ minutes for the GPS to be ready, the wrist-based heart rate sensor is a waste of time and spends half the time telling me I’m dead, and a large chunk of my data has randomly disappeared. So based on my personal experiences, I wouldn’t recommend runners buy a Garmin 235.

Apologies for the rather random rant, I do feel a bit better now. I’m tempted to contact Garmin as I don’t think my 235 should lose 50% of its battery life during a 30 minute run.

Rave: TopNine2018 Instagram

I spotted a few snide comments from the usual suspects about people sharing their #TopNine2018 photos, but I loved looking at all of them. My Top Nine Instagram posts had a definite running theme.MyTopNineI guess this makes sense because most of my Instagram followers are runners and I only tend to share running related photos. This year, I’m going to make more effort to update Instagram on a slightly more regular basis. Shameless self promotion alert, but if you don’t already, please follow me.

Rant: Out of control dogs

Although I love running in Sutton Park and I also love dogs, I’m getting slightly fed up with the number of out of control dogs in the park. I can pretty much guarantee that every time I run or walk in the park I’ll have a ‘run in’ with a dog.

I don’t care if your dog is “being friendly” or “just wants to play with you” or “won’t hurt you”, I’m going to be pissed off if your dog jumps up at me or chases me bearing its teeth. And as for the lady I spotted trying to walk five large dogs last week, did you really think it was a good idea?

Rave: Wolves

I’ve been a Wolves supporter since I was a child. There have been ups and (quite a lot of) downs, but at the moment, I’m enjoying the Wolves roller-coaster. The second half performance against Spurs was amazing. The performance against Crystal Palace was terrible.

Although 2019 didn’t get off to the best of starts, I’m looking forward to Wolves having a successful 2019.

Rant: The weather

I know I shouldn’t complain too much because it hasn’t snowed (yet) and the weather hasn’t really messed with my half marathon training schedule. However, I can’t remember the last time I spotted blue skies in Four Oaks. The skies in Four Oaks have been grey for what feels like weeks.WeatherI’m starting to suspect that the lack of decent daylight is messing with my mood. I need some sunshine and blue skies to cheer me up. I also need some slightly chillier weather to test out some of my Christmas presents.

Rave: New Trainers

During my Boxing Day online shopping spree, I somehow ended up on the Brooks Running website and found myself hitting ‘add to basket’ and then buying these Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers.BrooksAt £84 they weren’t cheap, but this FREE SHIPPING & RETURNS. With Brooks’ True Blue Guarantee, take our gear for a trial run and if you’re not 100% satisfied within 90 days, return it for free” caught my attention. If I’m not 100% satisfied, I will be getting in contact with Brooks.

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

What was the highlight of your Christmas meal? Are you a turkey fan or do you prefer to eat something else?

Have you ever had any scary dog incidents while out running? I hope that my recent experiences are unusual rather than the norm.  

What is the most you would spend on a pair of trainers? £84 was slightly more than I’m usually prepared to spend.

My running goals for 2019

Happy New Year! I hope that you all had an awesome Christmas and New Year. Here’s to a healthy, happy and injury free 2019. I can’t believe I’ll reach the grand old age of 40 at the start of May.

As always, I’m acutely aware that people are getting a little fed up with all of the New Year’s resolutions and goals type blogs. I really hope that my slightly unusual mix of running goals doesn’t bore you all to tears.training-journalsLike last year and the year before, I’ve decided to set myself some challenging but hopefully achievable running goals. After – with a few notable exceptions – I failed to achieve most of last year’s goals, I wasn’t originally going to share my 2019 goals. However, I hope that by sharing these goals I make myself slightly more accountable. A runner can always dream.

Run 1000 km – I set myself the same goal last year and ended up running approximately 735 km. I’ve entered the 1000 km in 2019 challenge on Virtual Runner and have set my distance target on Fetcheveryone so that I can monitor my progress throughout the year.

Complete 10 races – I set myself the same goal last year and ended up completing eight races and an unofficial virtual half marathon, a huge improvement on 2016 and 2017. I’ve already entered six races this year so I’m reasonably confident I’ll earn myself 10 running medals this year. I just need to avoid picking up any too many niggles.

Complete 15 parkruns – Now that Sutton Park parkrun is up and running – apologies for the rubbish pun – I don’t have to rely on lifts to and from Walsall Arboretum, I can run into Sutton Park. Last year, I aimed to complete 10 parkruns and ended up completing 13; a massive increase on the one parkrun I completed in 2017. I suspect this running goal may be slightly lacking in ambition, so I’ll see how I’m getting on in June and update it if needed.

Volunteer 10 times at parkrun – I’ve been pretty rubbish at volunteering at parkrun. Having to rely on lifts to and from Walsall Arboretum made volunteering difficult. I felt I had to complete parkrun as quickly as possible and then run back to the person who had (reluctantly) driven me to the Arboretum. Now that I can run to Sutton Park parkrun, I’ll be volunteering on a more regular basis.   parkrun volunteering

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

A sub 8-minute mile – I’ve just looked through all my old race listings on Fetcheveryone and my current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012. I’d like to lower my mile PB at some point this year, possibly at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May. I’ve already entered the Vitality London 10,000 which takes place the following day, so I could go for a weekend of PBs.

A sub 25-minute 5k – Last year, I set myself the goal of completing every parkrun in under 30 minutes. My times ranged between 27:10 and 33:59 so I more or less achieved my goal. I set my parkrun PB of 26:49 in February 2016 when I weighed less than I do now and was fitter. Once again, I suspect I’ll find running 5k in under 25 minutes incredibly challenging but I’m going to give it a go.

A sub 60-minute 10k – in 2016, 2017 and 2018 I set myself the challenge of completing a 10k in under 55 minutes. After struggling to complete the so-called ‘fast’ Lichfield 10k in 61:17 and feeling completely demoralised, I’ve decided to set myself the challenge of completing a 10k in under an hour. I was going to enter the flat and fast Fradley 10k in March, but I already have a date with a half marathon on the same day. I just hope the weather on the morning of the Vitality London 10,000 in May is kind this year.

A sub 2:15 half marathon – After completely messing up my pacing, I finished the Royal Parks Half in 2:24:19. Although this was a 5+ minute PB, I came away from London feeling disappointed. The training plan I’ve cobbled together for my next half marathon – the London Landmarks Half – started on Monday. My running mojo has returned and *touch wood* my temperamental left foot is behaving itself. I’m quietly confident I’ll be able to improve my half marathon PB in March.

Listen to my niggles – I’ve said this countless times before, but I’m definitely an injury-prone runner. Some runners hardly ever seem to get injured – or else they are really good at pretending they don’t – I seem to spend a lot of time nursing various niggles. As I don’t want to spend weeks on end feeling envious of other runners, I’m going to continue to listen to and closely monitor my aches and pains. Finances permitting, I’m also going to continue to work with a local sports injury expert. Knee injury

[Source]

Improve my core strength – At the moment, my core strength is pretty much nonexistent. My friend who is a qualified running coach friend has told me that if I want to stop getting injured all the time, I need to improve my core strength. In between Christmas and New Year, I spent far too long time watching core strength exercise for beginner’s themed videos on YouTube.

Run with others more – I set this as a running goal last year and did reasonably well. I tracked down a local running group in Wallingford and ran with them when my training schedule allowed. I’ll never forget some of the more challenging runs I completed with Run Wallingford. Running with faster runners most definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, it nearly killed me. Run WallingfordThis year, I’m aiming to run with Run Wallingford on a more regular basis. I’m only going to be working in Wallingford until the end of March, so I need to make the most of the time I’ve got left there. I’m also aiming to complete the majority of my long weekend training runs with Ellen. Running in Sutton Park is far, far more enjoyable than running around Four Oaks.

Train consistently – I’ve never been great at running and training consistently; some months I love running and will run 3-4 times a week. Other months I seem to fall out of love with running and don’t run at all. If I want to improve as a runner, I need to train more consistently. I also need to get better at actually following training plans.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal last year and failed miserably. My family bought me some amazing running gear for Christmas. I also treated myself to some trainers in the Brooks sale, a couple of t-shirts and a pair of gloves in the Lululemon sale and some 2XU capris in the TK Maxx sale. So although I’m definitely going to have to invest in a couple of replacement running bras sooner rather than later, I don’t need to buy anything else.

I know I ask the same question every January, have you set yourself any running goals for the year ahead?

Have you entered any target races?

Can you recommend any core strength exercises or YouTube videos that are relatively beginner-friendly? 

2018 Review: Running highlights & lessons learned

As 2018 is almost over – I swear January was only a month ago – I’ve decided to review my running highlights, lowest points and lessons learned throughout the year. As always, if you don’t enjoy reading lengthy posts I’d recommend that you close the page. Here are the links to my reviews of 2017 and 2016.

January

While most sensible people were out and about having fun, I quite literally ran into 2018. If I’m injury-free, I’m planning to do the same again this year. I started 2018 feeling positive and shared my running goals and entered a slightly ambitious number of races.Sutton ParkTraining for the Cambridge Half Marathon was going well, and I felt reasonably niggle free. I relocated to Wallingford to start a new job and joined up with the local running group; Run Wallingford, for some challenging training sessions. I completed my first Walsall Arboretum parkrun of the year in 29:15 and had some incredibly enjoyable runs in Sutton Park.

February

I was thrilled when I discovered I’d finally got a ballot place in the Royal Parks Half, and paid the £57+£3.95 postage and packaging entry fee without hesitating. A top tip, always check out the route and read the small print before entering expensive races. Although my Cambridge Half Marathon training continued, a frustrating knee niggle meant that I missed quite a few key training runs. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t feel very confident as the half marathon approached. I completed one parkrun in a slightly faster time of 28:44 and set myself the target of running the 5k distance in less than 25 minutes in 2018.

March

I unfortunately missed my target race the Cambridge Half Marathon due to illness; a touch embarrassing when I’d raised £500 for The Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. Once I’d recovered, I completed the inaugural and very exclusive, Four Oaks Half with Ellen and spent the rest of the day in bed feeling terrible.Post run selfieI also found myself running laps around Walsall Arboretum three times in March in times of 28:03, 29:05 and 29:51.Walsall parkrun 24_03_18 1

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

So much for getting faster with each parkrun, I’m definitely getting slower with age. A highlight of one of my trips to Walsall Arboretum was getting to meet blogging and running superstar; Anna the Apple.

April

At the beginning of April, I realised that I wasn’t really enjoying running, heading out the door had become a chore. After following training plans for what felt like months, I decided to run for fun for a while. It was time to keep it simple with no time or distance pressures. This approach seemed to work, and I completed what turned out to be my most enjoyable race of the year; the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run in a respectable time.Hopwas Woods

[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

It’s just a shame in typical Emma style I managed to injure my right knee during the race. I ended up missing a 10k race I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity to enter again; the Treehouse 10k in Cholsey near Wallingford.

May

The start of May saw me reach the grand old age of 39! I can’t believe I’m nearly 40, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. The highlight of what was a really low-key birthday was my right knee coping with a five-mile run after work. The following Bank Holiday weekend I celebrated my birthday with a trip to Walsall Arboretum parkrun – I was quite pleased to finish in 28:18 – and far, far too much food and drink.

The following weekend I completed Walsall Arboretum parkrun in 27:10, my fastest parkrun of 2018. I met up with Ellen for a couple of training runs in Sutton Park, experienced a not so relaxing post-work run with Run Wallingford, and at the end of the month, jogged around the hottest race ever; the Wallingford Thames Run.Group photo

[Photo: Run Wallingford]

The pint of cold and refreshing beer tasted amazing, all races should provide bars and BBQs. Looking back, May was a pretty awesome month.

June

The first weekend in June saw me complete a not very enjoyable Walsall Arboretum parkrun in 28:14, and the even less enjoyable Great Midlands Fun Run the following day. The highlight of the weekend was definitely the BBQ and beer afterward. I’ve said it before, but don’t think I’ll enter the Great Midlands Fun Run again, each year I either end up injured or have a shit time. I shared a really personal blog and received a shed load of support from people I’ll probably never meet. I completed another boiling hot race; the Aldridge 10k and failed to achieve a sub-60 minute 10k.

July

At the start of the month I shared a halfway(ish) through the year running goals progress report and adjusted some of my goals. Thanks to some major rail engineering works, I spent the weekend in Wallingford and finally popped my parkrun tourism cherry at a boiling hot Didcot parkrun.Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

A couple of weeks later, I returned to Walsall Arboretum and completed my tenth parkrun of the year in 27:52. I accepted that my sub 25-minute goal would have to wait until 2019, I just wasn’t fast enough. The following morning, I found myself running in Sutton Park with Ellen.Sutton Park ice cream

I was reminded that running with others is really, really good fun. I also discovered that I can run a couple of miles immediately after eating an ice cream without any repercussions. The end of July saw me complete the incredibly challenging and soggy Abbott Trail 10k and start my Royal Parks Half Marathon training.

August

Unfortunately, August wasn’t the most positive of months as my PhD supervisor, mentor and close friend Geoff Petts passed away. I’ll never forget opening the email with the heading ‘Geoff’ and realising that I’d missed my opportunity chance to say goodbye. Running and the Boat House pub next to the River Thames became my escape mechanisms. Although I *may* on occasion have had a few too many beers, I managed to complete the majority of my training runs.Sutton Park parkrun finish

[Photo: Richard Hill]

I also attended and wrote a brief review of the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun. After several failed attempts to get a Sutton Park parkrun up and running, it felt amazing to finally have a parkrun in my local park.

September

September was a far more positive month. I completed another four weeks of half marathon training and just about managed to avoid picking up any injuries. I really enjoyed a spot of volunteering at Sutton Park parkrun and managed to bag myself a sneaky PB at the Little Aston 5 mileparkrun volunteering

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

The following weekend I completed the Lichfield 10k in a disappointing 61:17. I made my usual mistake of setting out at a far too ambitious pace and paid the price. So much for finishing in under 60 minutes.Lichfield 10k

[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

While my own performance was pretty shit, my sister-in-law Julie completed the 10k distance in an absolutely amazing time.Lichfield 10k 2018

My slightly disappointing 28:23 parkrun summed up September. At the end of September, I returned to my old university to present some of my research at a hydrology conference. The conference was emotionally draining as it was originally going to be a large part of Geoff’s retirement celebrations.

October

The first Friday in October saw me travel into London for Geoff’s memorial service. The congregation was a who’s who of academia and hydrology. This quote will stay with me forever:

“The candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”

I stepped up my fundraising efforts and got closer to my £1000 target. Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me. I completed the final few sessions of half marathon training and felt quite confident I’d be able to achieve my sub 2:15 goal. I travelled to London the day before the half marathon and spent a slightly emotional day walking around parts of Marylebone and Southwark.

I wouldn’t recommend eating three large meals the day before a half marathon. I went to bed feeling like a giant slug. The weather on the morning of the Royal Parks Half was incredibly ‘hydrological’, I don’t think I’ve ever run in such wet conditions. The course was more than a little disappointing, I don’t think I’ll enter the ballot again.Royal Parks Half

I’m a little ashamed to admit that immediately after the Royal Parks half I completely lost my running mojo; I just didn’t feel like running. I wasn’t injured, I just couldn’t be bothered to pull on my trainers.

November

I’ve just checked my training log and discovered that I ran seven miles in November. The combination of a persistent knee niggle combined with a complete loss of running mojo meant that I just didn’t feel like running. Even buying new running gear in the Black Friday sales and reading my favourite running blogs didn’t seem to help.

I ran Sutton Park parkrun with Fetchie Rachel, realised that my knee still didn’t feel 100 per cent, and decided to DNS both the Birmingham MoRun and the Birmingham Christmas BII 10k. In an attempt to rediscover my running mojo, I treated myself to some running magazines. My loss of mojo had one slightly unexpected advantage, all the extra free time meant that I managed to get most of my Christmas presents purchased and wrapped and Christmas cards written. I also managed to complete some slightly overdue product reviews. Every cloud and all of that shebang.

On the final day of November, I entered the Run up to Christmas virtual running challenge and set myself the target of completing 50 km before Christmas Day.

December

December got off to a far, far more positive start. My right knee finally decided to stop randomly hurting, and for the first time in a month, I actually wanted to run. I got up stupidly early one Saturday morning and entered my target race for the second half of 2019. I met up with Ellen for a series of weekend runs in Sutton Park, these saw us running in some slightly tricky conditions. I also managed to fit in a few runs around Wallingford after work.Rainy Selfie

A lack of transport meant that I unfortunately didn’t make it to the Wheaton Aston 10k yesterday. I can’t wait to get my own car in 2019. After really enjoying quite literally running into this year, I’m planning on running into 2019.

In standard Emma style, I’ve already set myself some running and fitness goals for 2019. Some are quite challenging, and some scare me a little. I just need my left foot to behave itself as I want to start running regularly again. I’ve got two half marathons in London in March.

I think it’s safe to say that on both a personal level and as a runner, 2018 had its ups and downs. Probably more ups than downs. Although my monthly mileage was reasonably consistent throughout most of the year, you can see where I completely lost my running mojo. This combined with a couple of niggles, meant that I got nowhere near my target of running 1000 km in 2018.

2018 milesI’m hoping that 2019 is slightly less turbulent.

What was the running highlight of 2018 for you? Although the weather was far from ideal, my running highlight was completing the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

What are your running and fitness goals for 2019? I’ve set myself the challenge of not buying any unessential running related purchases. I failed in 2018 but will succeed in 2019!