Great Birmingham Run training week 12

Once again, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was somehow managing to run for 85 minutes yesterday.Collage 29I should have completed four runs during week 12 of my half marathon training; a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a 55 minute steady paced run on Wednesday, another 20 minute jog on Saturday and an 85 minute long run on Sunday. Unfortunately, a very niggly right knee meant that I only completed two out of four training runs. At least I managed to run for 85 minutes yesterday.

So what went wrong?

Monday – Rest

I was meant to start the week with a 20 minute recovery run. My right knee felt quite niggly after the Lichfield 10k so I decided to rest. Walking the short distance to post my latest batch of eBay sales was so painful, it was clear I’d definitely made the right decision. At least the walk helped to ease some of the stiffness in my legs.

Tuesday – Rest

The highlight of my rest day on Tuesday was completing a 35-page long job application form. I don’t think I’ve ever answered so many random questions. As a (sort of) reward for resting and not running – a few years ago I would have definitely attempted to run with an injury – I opened my Running Heroes prize…Collage 30As the internet doesn’t need to see a photo of my rather flabby stomach, I won’t be sharing a photo of me modelling the Ted Baker sports bra and cropped leggings I won. Seriously though. £79 for a pair of cropped leggings!? At least I’ve now got a couple of Christmas presents sorted.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 55 minute steady run but I didn’t. When my alarm woke me at 05:00 I noticed two things; my right knee still wasn’t feeling great and it was so windy outside there were wheelie bin related hazards everywhere. As I didn’t want to damage my right knee further or get taken out by an out of control wheelie bin, I turned my alarm off and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The rest of Wednesday was productive but incredibly dull. I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Thursday – Rest

Another rest day! I thought about completing a 55 minute run but decided not to as my right knee was unfortunately still feeling sore. After spending the morning working out how I’m going to get to my interview next week – I can’t wait to start driving again – I walked the short distance to the local hair salon. This probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but I’m not a huge fan of having my hair cut. I’m a wet my hair, shampoo, rinse and go type of person. I rarely use conditioner and don’t own a hairdryer. I left the salon with a cold head and hair that is slightly too short to tie back. My hair grows so quickly, I’m not concerned about it flapping around and irritating me during next month’s half marathon, yet.

Friday – Rest

Unfortunately, even after four rest days my right knee still felt quite sore. For the first time, I started to doubt that I’d make it to the start line of the Great Birmingham Run next month. I spent the majority of the morning sitting at my computer with an ice pack balanced on my right knee. In the afternoon I dug out my foam roller and spent ages working through some of the foam rolling exercises and knee strengthening exercises on Kinetic Revolution. Although my right knee felt a million times better, I was reminded that I am about as flexible as a stiff board.

On Friday night I did something I haven’t been brave enough to do for ages. I squeezed myself into a smart dress, put on some makeup and met up with some friends at the train station. We then headed into Birmingham for a bite to eat in Adam’s – if you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in Birmingham then this is the best restaurant, followed by a few drinks in Grand Central. It was a positive end to a difficult week.

Saturday – 20 mins very easy jog

Although I know I completed my 20 minute very easy jog, I’m not 100 per cent sure how far I ran as my Garmin ‘died’ during the run. I completed my usual two mile loop, so suspect that I ran for more than 20 minutes. At least my right knee was reasonably niggle free. When I got home I quickly realised that I hadn’t charged my Garmin since the Lichfield 10k last Sunday so left it charging ready for my longer run. The rest of my Saturday was pretty mundane. I spent four hours preparing for my interview on Tuesday and then decided it was time for a couple of Jasyoga 5-minute reset videos. I tried to watch some of the T20 cricket, but had to abandon the TV when the vision in my left eye started to go strange. As I only usually have issues with my vision when I’m tired, I decided to head straight to bed. At least I got loads of sleep before my longer run.

Sunday – 85 mins easy pace

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I spent about 10 minutes debating the pros and cons of running first thing on a Sunday morning. I decided that the pros outweighed the cons and decided to drag myself out of bed. I got dressed, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of water, did some stretches, headed out the door into the cold – it was really cold – and waited for my Garmin to locate some satellites. Although it felt like my Garmin took forever to decided to function as a GPS, I was soon running and playing dodge the abandoned wheelie bins and bags of rubbish.

What followed was the most enjoyable 85 minutes of running I’ve experienced in a long time. My right knee behaved itself. My right heel was pain free and for once I’d planned my route to perfection. I managed to run up every hill I encountered and I conquered one of my nemesis hills. For once, I reached the end of my run and felt that I could have carried on running. The training sessions I’d missed earlier in the week had clearly not impacted my fitness levels. I got home, knocked back a couple of glasses of orange nuun, had a shower and then went back to bed for a couple of hours.Collage 31So that’s week 12 of my Great Birmingham Run training not exactly completed. Although my right knee prevented me from heading out on a couple of training runs, I’m over the moon I’ve navigated my way through 75 per cent of my selected training plan. There are four weeks to go and two of those weeks are taper weeks. I’ve got everything crossed my right knee doesn’t implode suddenly when I’m out running.

Next week’s schedule (hopefully!) contains four training runs and looks pretty challenging. Later on today, I’ve got to somehow complete a 20 minute recovery run. I’ve then got to run for 60 minutes on Wednesday and for 45 minutes on Friday. And if my right knee is still functioning, I’ll be pounding the pavements of Four Oaks for 100 minutes on Sunday morning. Although I know I’m capable of running for 100 minutes, I’m not sure how my fragile knee will react.

Training totals

  • Runs: 38
  • Time 17 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 94.29 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52


  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 6/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Great Birmingham Run training week 11

As always, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was the Lichfield 10k. After running on my own for several weeks, running with others was actually far, far more enjoyable than I thought it would be.Collage 27Week 11 of my half marathon training – described as a key week with a time trial – saw me struggle to complete a 20 minute ‘easy jog’ on Monday, swap my Wednesday and Thursday sessions because I felt I needed an extra rest day – my approach worked as I had an awesome 40 minute run on Thursday morning, a 20 minute jog on Saturday and the Lichfield 10k yesterday.

Last year I aimed for and achieved a sub-60 minute time at the Lichfield 10k. Yesterday I was happy just to complete the race without needing too many walking breaks. So how did my fragile left foot and dodgy right knee cope during the eleventh week of half marathon training?

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, I reached out, turned it off and woke up three hours later. I clearly needed my beauty sleep. After spending almost an hour faffing about and waiting for the school traffic to die down, I eventually headed out on my run at 09:30. It wasn’t the most enjoyable run as I was wearing too many layers and felt far too warm. I had to dodge people walking dogs, people pushing pushchairs, people running (a lot faster than I was) for the bus and cars blocking the pavement. To make matters worse, I had to stop running twice; once to give way to someone reversing off their drive and once to retie one of my shoelaces. The run left me feeling more than a little mardy.

I spent the rest of the day job hunting and writing. I applied for a very temporary job at my local M&S, passed the first online assessment and booked an interview slot for the following morning. After spending the last two Christmas periods working in the same store, I was fairly confident I’d be offered one of the temporary roles.

Tuesday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day as my legs felt quite sore after my slightly longer run on Sunday and failed recovery run. In the morning I travelled the short distance by train to Sutton Coldfield, had the most informal interview ever and was told to wait for a phone call. I also managed to overcome my slightly irrational phobia of hair salons and booked myself in for a seriously overdue hair cut. I spent the afternoon working on some ideas for an academic paper and writing a product review. I also treated my calf muscles to another session with my foam roller. I’ve decided that I’m so useless at inflicting pain on myself, I would probably benefit from a sports massage.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 40 minute run, but for some reason, when my alarm woke me at 05:00, I just didn’t feel like running. Fortunately, the rest of the day was far more positive and productive. I discovered that I’d got an interview for a hydrology job I’d applied for at the end of August. I hadn’t expected to get an interview so the email was a very pleasant surprise. I vacuumed the house, mopped the kitchen floor, did two loads of washing, listed more rubbish on eBay and completed a couple of job applications. As I was determined to run the following morning I made sure I was in bed before midnight. It’s just a shame I woke up at 02:00 and found it virtually impossible to get back to sleep.

Thursday – 40 mins fast with warm-up and cool-down

I decided to approach my run on Thursday the same way I’ve approached all of my training sessions. After running at a reasonably steady pace for the first ten minutes, I attempted to increase my pace a little. I’ve clearly lost the ability to run at anything faster than 10:00 min/miles as I struggled to progress from first into second gear. I think I only managed to increase my pace to avoid smelly rubbish bins and to cross the main road. I did, however, remember to cool-down so the run wasn’t a complete failure.Collage 28After spending the rest of the day attempting to answer technical competency questions and waiting for a phone call from M&S that never materialised, I headed across Birmingham to the university to collect some books. I may have failed as an academic, but I’m determined to complete the paper I’ve been working on for almost two years.

Friday – Rest

Friday was a reasonably productive but incredibly restful rest day. I only left the house once to pick up a takeaway from the local Chinese – the takeaway was virtually inedible and went straight through me. So much for a Friday evening treat, perhaps my body is now repelling unhealthy food.

Saturday – 20 mins jog

When I looked through the training plan at the start of the week, I was a little surprised to see it included a 20 minute run the day before a 10k time trial. I’m pretty sure you can work out what happened. I completed a 20 minute run rather than a 20 minute jog. So much for taking it easy the day before a 10k race.

Luckily the rest of the day was far more relaxing. I received an email from M&S. Although I’d passed all the assessments, there were no suitable vacancies for me. The email came as a bit of a surprise after my meeting on Tuesday.

In the evening I met up with some friends for a couple of pints. As I was aware I had a 10k race to run the following morning, I made sure that I actually limited myself to two pints. When I got some I spent ages looking for four safety pins, double checked the train times, got my running kit ready and went to bed at a sensible time.

Sunday – 10k race or time-trial

Like last year, I was originally meant to complete an 85 minute longer run at an ‘easy’ pace in week 11. However, after researching local races, I decided to take part in the Lichfield 10k. As I’ll be writing a review of the Lichfield 10k in a separate post, I won’t write an essay here. In summary, it was cool and very windy, I ran with the lady I met last year for the first four miles and then told her to run on ahead, she smashed her PB. The last two miles were a struggle and I needed to stop a couple of times to stretch out my right knee. I need to check out some old race results, but I think I recorded my slowest 10k time ever.

So that’s week 11 of my training for the Great Birmingham Run more or less successfully completed. I got my pacing completely wrong on Monday, couldn’t be bothered to run on Wednesday so gave myself a rest day, had a great run on Thursday, a mediocre run on Saturday and somehow managed to complete the Lichfield 10k without my right knee falling off. At the moment I’m finding it a little difficult to comprehend that in five weeks time I’ll *fingers crossed* have completed a half marathon.

The training schedule for week 12 contains four runs and looks quite challenging. I’ve got to drag myself out for a 20 minute recovery jog at some stage today; hopefully my legs will feel slightly more awake this evening. I’ve got to complete a 55 minute ‘steady run’ on Wednesday morning, another 20 minute run on Saturday and then a longer 85 minute run on Sunday. After my recent issues with pacing and route planning, I need to map out the perfect (i.e. as flat as possible!) route for Sunday. I have a feeling that the rest days on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will feature foam rolling and icing sessions.

Training totals

  • Runs: 36
  • Time: 15 hours 15 mins
  • Distance: 84.77 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52


  • Right heel: 5/10
  • Right knee: 9/10
  • Left foot: 4/10

I’m feeling like a runner again and Vieve protein water review

I hope that everyone has had a great week. I can’t believe that it’s nearly the weekend again.

After recently completing 65 and 75 minute training runs, I’m finally feeling like a runner again. It’s been a while. I’ve almost reached week 12 of my half marathon training plan and I’m starting to believe I’ll make it to the start line of the Great Birmingham Run next month.

I’m feeling so confident, I’ve started to look at potential races in November and December. Although I suspect that some of my revised running goals may well be unachievable due to my lack of pace, I’m still determined to run a sub-30 minute 5k and a sub-60 minute 10k this year.

Learner runner[Source]

Once I’ve successfully completed the Great Birmingham Run – you see, I can be positive – I’m going to focus on running slightly shorter distances. I’m also going to incorporate some speed work into my weekly training. Hopefully my dodgy feet will cope with the fartlek sessions I’ve got planned.

Vieve protein water review

I recently received a press release about a brand new protein water drink; Vieve. As I was intrigued and love testing and reviewing new products, I asked if I could have some samples to review.

Vieve 1My samples of Vieve arrived a couple of weeks ago and I immediately put them in the fridge. The recent warm weather meant that they didn’t last very long.

What is Vieve?

Founded by entrepreneur Rafael Rozenson, Vieve is a new protein water brand which launched in the UK this year. As I’m a hydrologist and not a nutritionist, I’m not going to pretend that I’m aware of the benefits of protein to active women and men.

A recent report by Mintel suggested that I’m not alone and although in the UK we are becoming increasingly health conscious, we still lack awareness of the health benefits of protein, with 25 per cent of us unsure of how much protein we really need in our diet.

With no sugar, no fat, no artificial colours or flavours and 20g of protein in every bottle, Vieve is marketed as a refreshing way for active women and men to get the protein required for recovery, muscle growth and maintenance of healthy bones.

Vieve is the first sports nutrition product to achieve Sugarwise certification and is available in three flavours:

  • Coconut and Honey
  • Strawberry and Rhubarb
  • Citrus, Apple and Mint

I was sent one 500ml bottle of each flavour to try. Here are my thoughts on each of the three flavours.

Coconut and Honey flavour

Although, after a slightly rocky start, I’ve grown to like the taste of coconut water, I’ll be completely honest and admit that as I don’t like the taste of honey, I wasn’t looking forward to drinking the bottle of Coconut and Honey flavour Vieve.

I decided to drink my bottle of Coconut and Honey flavour Vieve after I’d completed a 20 minute recovery run in humid conditions. Unfortunately, I only managed to drink a quarter of the bottle as I didn’t like the combination of coconut and honey and started to feel slightly nauseous. I suspect that this may have been a result of the humid conditions rather than the drink.

Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour

I was intrigued and a little apprehensive when I saw the bottle of Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour Vieve. While I love strawberries and quite like the taste of rhubarb, I wasn’t completely convinced that the two would work well together.

Vieve 2I saved my bottle of Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour Vieve as a reward for completing a longer run. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to drink 500ml of Strawberry and Rhubarb flavour protein water at 6am on a Sunday morning, but it was very easy to drink and tasted so amazing I was disappointed when I reached the end of the bottle.

Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour

Once again, I was intrigued and a little sceptical when I saw the bottle of Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour Vieve. What would the combination of citrus, apple and mint taste like? Would the taste of mint overwhelm the citrus and apple? Would I manage to drink it?

I drank my third and final bottle of Vieve after a hot and challenging 20 minute run. I found the Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour Vieve natural tasting and very easy to drink. The drink left me feeling hydrated and refreshed. As an added bonus, I managed to avoid my usual post running in humid conditions headache.

Would I recommend Vieve protein water?

Yes! I would definitely recommend the Strawberry and Rhubarb and the Citrus, Apple and Mint flavour Vieve. Although I personally didn’t like the Coconut and Honey flavour Vieve, my friend Kate did. I found Vieve slightly easier to drink at 6am than my usual post-run drink; strawberry or chocolate flavour milkshake. I found Vieve quite filling, very refreshing and incredibly convenient. If I spotted Strawberry and Rhubarb Vieve in my local supermarket I’d definitely stock up.

Vieve protein water drinks are available from Vieve and costs £14.99 for a pack of six bottles.

**Full disclosure: I was sent some samples of Vieve for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Rants and raves #19

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest selection of rants and raves after spending the majority of the weekend on my own. I’m also experiencing BBQ #FOMO. As always all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other (far, far superior) and less opinionated running blogs are available**

Rave(ish): The Weather

After a wet and generally miserable start, the weather improved towards the end of August. As an added bonus, the weather on Bank Holiday Monday was perfect. Untitled 1Not bad for a Bank Holiday Monday!

Although the weather is pretty rubbish in Four Oaks this morning, I reckon that now the summer holidays are over, the warm weather will make another appearance at some stage.

Rant: BBQs

The only downside to the return of summer has been the increase in the number of people having BBQs.


The distinctive aroma of a BBQ is always guaranteed to make me feel really, really hungry. After a couple of cancellations due to wet weather, I’m still waiting for my first BBQ of the year.

Rave: Running

I’m still enjoying my half marathon training and *fingers crossed* my fragile feet are just about coping with the increased mileage. Last month, I successfully navigated 47 miles of pavement pounding.

Four Oaks EstateI’m making the most of being able to run. 

Not bad considering I only managed to run approximately 10 miles between February and June. I just hope that nothing drops off between now and the date of the Great Birmingham Run.

Rant: Drunk people on trains

Although, l definitely enjoy the occasional drink, I know my limits and know when to stop. Call me boring, but there is nothing worse than travelling on public transport with excessively drunk people. In the last four weeks I’ve witnessed ‘adults’ fighting, men being sexist, someone throwing up all over a train, kids attempting to set fire to a train and generally behaving like plonkers.Train grumpI can’t wait to start driving again.

Unfortunately, a minority of people act like muppets when they leave the pub. Last Sunday I ran near a couple of popular local pubs. I had to avoid smashed bottles and glasses, a half eaten Mc Donald’s, the contents of several overturned wheelie bins, a couple of piles of vomit and a pair of discarded boxer shorts. In my attempt to escape the smell of rotting rubbish, I bagged myself a Strava achievement. Every cloud and all that.

Rave: Decluttering and eBay

I’ve been decluttering the junk in the attic since the beginning of the year. I’ve discovered my school reports from primary school – I’ve always been a bit of a boffin, and the shirt everyone signed on the last day of senior school in 1995. Other random discoveries included my GCSE physics and chemistry notebooks – I hated both subjects – and my gymnastics BAGA awards. The majority of my childhood junk is now back in storage in the attic.

Thanks to eBay and a couple of local charily shops, I’ve been slightly more successful at decluttering my unwanted running gear and trainers. I’ve genuinely got no idea how I managed to accumulate so many pairs of barely worn trainers, but I managed to donate 14 pairs to a Birmingham-based shoe charity. I’ve got one more pile of clothes to sort through and then I’m done.

Rant: Royal Parks Half Marathon

Like a lot of runners, I’ve been unsuccessful in the ballot for the Royal Parks Half Marathon six years in a row. Last month I turned down three last minute charity places in the event. This year, it appears that quite a few charities struggled to fill their allocation of places. I suspect that quite a few places remain unfilled. Hopefully the number of ballot places will be increased next year. A runner can always dream.

Rave: Running Heroes

At the end of last month, I received an email with the subject – Ted Baker challenge winner! – from Running Heroes. At first I thought it was yet another dodgy email so I checked my Running Heroes account.Ted Baker

A running bonus.

It wasn’t a hoax; I really had been selected as one of 10 lucky winners. I can’t wait to receive my vest top and leggings from Ted Baker.

Rant: Wheelie bins

A rather random one to finish with, but the Birmingham bin strike is very much back on again and could continue into 2018. Awesome. As the bin collections never actually returned to normal after the last strike, I only got to enjoy one week of wheelie bin and smell free running. I was lucky. Residents in some areas of Birmingham have been waiting for their bins to be emptied for over eight weeks. I can’t begin to imagine how bad the stench must be. I’m already looking forward to running past piles of rubbish during the Great Birmingham Run next month. It will be a great advertisement for the City!

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, then thank-you!

Due to the overwhelming generosity of the running community, A Mile in Her Shoes is not accepting clothing donations at the moment. Does anyone know of any alternative charities?

Great Birmingham Run training week 10

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I can’t believe the summer holidays have finished, the year is flying by. Yesterday’s 75 minute run reminded me that I need to trust the training plan. It also left me feeling exhausted for most of the day. I’ve no idea how I managed to run for 20 minutes earlier this morning.Collage 24Following a much needed rest day on Bank Holiday Monday, week 10 of my half marathon training plan saw me complete a 35 minute run on Tuesday, a 45 minute run on Thursday and a 20 minute ‘recovery jog’ on Friday. The tenth week ended with a more challenging 75 minute run/walk yesterday. Although the training plan gave me the option of incorporating walking breaks into my longer run, when I headed out on my run, I was determined to run continuously for 75 minutes. So how did my fragile feet cope during the tenth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Monday was a rest day and also a sunny Bank Holiday. I decided to make the most of the sunshine and headed to Sutton Park for a long walk. Midway through my walk I stumbled across an ice cream van. Luckily I’d got enough money to treat myself to an extra large ‘99’ ice cream. When I returned from the park I reintroduced my calf muscles to my extra torturous foam roller. It wasn’t the most enjoyable experience as I’m not very good at inflicting pain on myself.

Tuesday – 35 mins easy

What happened to the light mornings? When my alarm woke me at 05:30 it was pitch black outside. I got changed into some of my more hideous but bright running gear, went to the loo, drank a couple of glasses of water, completed a selection of PF exercises and stretches and headed out into the darkness. It took me about 10 minutes to warm up and once my legs had woken up, the rest of the run felt relatively easy.Collage 25I spent the morning catching up on my emails and then headed down to London for a meeting with a careers advisor. As I was paranoid about signal failures and train delays, I arrived in London two hours before my meeting. I did what all sensible people do and headed to the Euston Tap for a quick pint. Half way through my pint I discovered that my meeting had been cancelled. After wasting a bit of time people watching, I headed to Marylebone where I’d arranged to meet my friend. We had a couple of drinks and then walked the short distance to Carluccio’s. I decided to try something new so I ordered prawn marinara to start followed by spinach and ricotta ravioli and chocolate and rum fudge cake. The fudge cake was sickly but amazing. If you ever find yourself in Carluccio’s treat yourself!

Wednesday – Rest

It’s probably a good job I didn’t have to run on Wednesday as I found the train journey back up to Birmingham rather challenging. The rest of the day was incredibly restful. I felt so fragile I couldn’t even face my foam roller.

Thursday – 45 mins brisk pace

Once again I found myself starting my run in the dark. After frightening another dog walker, I think it might be time for me to buy a head torch. Although I was meant to run at a ‘brisk pace’ I decided to run at a sensible pace for the first 20 minutes, before speeding up for the final 25 minutes. Well that was the theory, the reality was slightly different. I’ve turned into such a pavement plodder, I was unable to increase my pace and felt rather frustrated when I finished running.

Friday – 20 mins recovery jog

I decided to treat myself to a lie in, so after spending the morning job hunting and analysing river flow data, I convinced my friend to give me a lift to Four Oaks Estate.Collage 26The run was meant to be a ‘recovery jog’ but I felt so good, I set out at quite a fast (for me) pace. Rather predictably, when I encountered a steepish hill I almost slowed to a walk. After getting used to running first thing in the morning, I felt far too warm throughout the second half of my failed attempt at a ‘recovery jog’. It took a couple of hours for my face to return to its normal colour after my run.

Saturday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day, as my fragile foot felt quite niggly after my failed recovery jog. As an added bonus, my right knee felt so sore I was not very confident I’d be able to run the following day. I spent the morning reading through an unpublished academic manuscript and the afternoon listing yet more unwanted junk on eBay. I spent the evening blogging, watching TV with an ice pack balanced on my knee, eating and stressing about my knee. Hopefully everyone else had a more enjoyable Saturday night.

Sunday – 75 mins jog/walk

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 – I’d somehow managed to set the time wrong – I decided I needed more sleep so reset my alarm for 05:30. I should have got up as I proceeded to lie in bed listening to the wind outside. At least it wasn’t raining. I got dressed, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of orange nuun, did some PF stretches, headed out the door and started to run. My right knee was completely pain free, the human body is strange at times.

Last week the first 35 minutes of my longer run felt easy. This week, I felt like I spent the first 45 minutes of my run running directly into the wind. The wind was relentless and at one stage I felt like I was barely making any forward progress. Once I finally escaped the wind I started to enjoy my run and attempted to increase my pace. Unfortunately, I’d somehow managed to completely mess-up my route planning again as I reached the bottom of my road after I’d been running for 65 minutes. Not ideal. I completed the 75 minutes, got very cold walking home, had a hot shower and then went back to bed for a nap.

So that’s week ten of my half marathon training completed. There are now only another six weeks of training to go. I can almost smell the aroma of Deep Heat on the start line. Although, my complete inability to pace myself, meant that I made some of the training runs slightly more challenging than they should have been, I managed to avoid the walk of shame.

Next week’s training schedule comprises of four runs and once again looks quite challenging. I’ve already dragged my tired legs around my favourite 20 minute loop; fortunately tomorrow (Tuesday) is a rest day. Wednesday’s run looks a little confusing as is described as ’40 minutes fast with warm-up and cool-down’ – I think I’m going to aim to run at a slightly faster, uncomfortable pace for 40 minutes. Thursday and Friday are both rest days and on Saturday I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog. I was originally meant to complete an 85 minute easy paced run on Sunday. Like last year, I will be completing a 10k time trial at the Lichfield 10k. I’d rather run a time trial with other people, so swapping the training sessions around makes sense. Although I know I’m not in sub-60 minute 10k shape, I’m aiming to run with the 60 minute pacer for as long as I can.

Training totals

  • Runs: 33
  • Time: 13 hours 55 mins
  • Distance: 77.18 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: TBC during week 11 or 12


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

Great Birmingham Run training week 9

I hope that everyone is enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend. For once, the weather has been pretty much perfect. Although I found the eighth week of my half marathon training relatively easy, I was incredibly apprehensive about three of the training runs in week nine.  Collage 21Week nine of my beginners half marathon training plan – the slightly scaring sounding “second building phase” – saw me complete a 10 minute recovery run on Monday, 35 minute runs on both Wednesday and Friday and a longer 65 minute run on Sunday. Week nine also saw me rediscover my love of a glass of cold Diet Coke after a run. So much for my self-imposed Diet Coke ban. I guess I can always try to give up again after the half marathon.

Monday – 10 mins easy jog

When I first spotted that Monday wasn’t a rest day, I was a little concerned my fragile feet would cope with running on three consecutive days. Fortunately, my heel felt reasonably niggle-free when I dragged myself out of bed, so I decided to run. It was cold, it was wet and it was windy. My pace probably wasn’t ‘easy’ as I set out far too quickly.  The 10 minute run up and down my road was over before I’d warmed and woken up. Week 9 had got off to a reasonably positive start.

Tuesday – Rest

When I got up on Tuesday, I felt that I really needed a rest day. Luckily my training plan had allocated me a day away from the pavements of Four Oaks. I spent the morning and early afternoon working through a 36 page long application form, it was seriously tedious. As a ‘reward’ I gave myself the night off from cooking for one and treated myself to a curry from the local takeaway. You may wonder why I’m telling you what I ate, all will be revealed.

Wednesday – 35 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I noticed three things. It was very dark outside, I was extremely thirsty and my guts felt somewhat unsettled. I wasn’t overly concerned about the dark or my thirst; I was concerned about my guts. I got changed into some running gear, went to the loo, drank a glass of water, went to the loo again, completed my PF exercises and stretches, went to the loo for a third time and then headed outside.

My run was very nearly quite literally, shit. I set out far too quickly (for me), felt nauseous virtually the whole time and spent the final ten minutes trying not to have an unfortunate accident. Running is actually quite hard when you *really* need the loo. Looking back, I’ve got no idea how I made it home but I won’t be eating chicken korma – yes my guts are pathetic – the evening before I run. The rest of the day was uneventful!

Thursday – Rest

Another rest day. Although I love being able to run again, I also love my rest days. I know I’ve said if before, but my fragile body needs what my old coach used to call ‘rest and recuperation’ days. I was reasonably productive and spent seven hours analysing flow data for an academic paper I doubt I’ll ever finish. By about 17:00 I needed a break from my computer and some fresh air so I popped out for a quick walk. Most sensible people who live in Four Oaks would head straight to Sutton Park. I decided walk the route I use for my longer early morning mid-week runs.Collage 22As you can see from the photos, it’s not the most exciting place to run. I’m actually getting quite bored of running up and down the same three roads, and have lost count of the number of times I’ve run past Streetly Tennis Club. I’ve searched for alternative routes but have yet to find anywhere as flat, heckler free *touches wood* and quiet. I guess I’ll be running a few more loops in the lead up to the half marathon.

When I got home I cooked myself a bland and hopefully ‘safe’ pasta and watched the Diamond League athletics.

Friday – 35 mins steady

After my rubbish run on Wednesday, I made sure that I set out at a far more sensible and sustainable pace. Conditions were perfect and I only had to step into the road to avoid a pedestrian once. I didn’t even see the elderly gentleman walking his noisy dog. I hope last week’s incident hasn’t made him alter his early morning routine. The rest of Friday was productive. I submitted a couple of job applications, washed three loads of washing and made a start on decluttering my ‘normal’ clothes.

Saturday – Rest

I’m not sure what went wrong, but I didn’t wake up until after 09:00. I guess I’m getting old and all the early mornings and lack of sleep finally caught up with me. I spent the morning writing eBay descriptions and then met my friend Anna for lunch. I forgot to take photos of my food, but I’m sure you can visualise my Chicken Caesar salad and chocolate pudding. And I wonder why I’m not losing much weight. The remainder of the day was uneventful and mundane – for example planning potential running routes – I won’t bore you with the details. I made sure I ate a sensible meal, pasta again, laid out my running kit, set my alarm and went to bed at 22:00.

Sunday – 65 mins steady

The extra sleep resulted in me waking well before my alarm, not ideal. I lay in bed thinking about my run for a few minutes and then got up. I got dressed, had a successful loo visit, drank a couple of glasses of water, worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches, headed out the door and started to run.

The first 35 minutes of my run felt so easy, I had to keep forcing myself to slow down. It was surprisingly busy out for a Sunday morning and I spotted a few people doing the ‘walk of shame’. Although the second half of the run was slightly more challenging, I managed to run up the hill that had beaten me a year ago. The final three minutes tested my mental strength. Have you ever had to run past the front door of your house when you are tired and just want to walk? It’s difficult! I completed the 65 minutes, walked for a few minutes, got home, forced myself to a pint of orange nuun, took some dodgy selfies, had a shower and then headed back to bed for a nap.Collage 23So that’s week nine and the second building phase of my half marathon training more or less completed. Will I ever learn to slow down and to pace myself? I very much doubt it. This time last year, I discussed carrying water with me on training runs lasting over an hour. I mentioned the Ultimate Direction hydration pack I’d won in a competition. Fast forward 12 months and I’m still too lazy to carry water with me on my longer runs. I think the hydration pack I won last year is gathering dust in the loft somewhere.

My week 10 – double figures at last – training schedule contains four training runs and looks even more challenging. I’ve somehow got to complete a 35 minute run on Tuesday, a slightly faster (yeah right) 45 minute run on Thursday, a 20 minute recovery run on Friday and what is described as a 75 minute ‘jog/walk’ on Sunday. As I like to plan ahead and to avoid hills, I’ve already planned out a reasonably flat, seven mile route.

Training totals

  • Runs: 29
  • Time: 11 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 61.20 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12


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

Great Birmingham Run training week 8

Once again, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I can’t believe I’ve successfully completed the first half of my beginners’ half marathon training plan. The second half of the plan looks slightly more challenging; it will be interesting to see if my injury-prone feet cope with the increased mileage.Collage 18Week 8 of my beginners half marathon training plan was described as a taper week – always a bonus – ending with a 5k time-trial i.e. parkrun. My training during week eight comprised of a 20 minute run on Wednesday, a 10 minute run on both Thursday and Sunday and a 5k time trial on Saturday. I switched around Saturday and Sunday’s training runs so that I could attend my nearest parkrun for the first time in 12 months. So how did my fragile feet cope with the eighth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Week 8 started with a rest day. I spent the morning completing yet another application form and then travelled into Birmingham to meet up with my music teacher at New Street station. Well that was the original plan. Unfortunately, another signal failure at London Euston – seriously Euston, please sort your useless signals out – meant that my music teacher’s train was cancelled and I had an hour wait for my train to London. Rather than loitering around the station, I walked to Up & Running and grabbed a copy of RunABC Midlands and bought some energy gels. The train journey down to London was awesome, as I got to chat about running for an hour with an ex Olympic long distance runner.Collage 19I arrived at Euston on time – train miracles can happen – and walked across to Regent Street for my meeting with my mentor. Seriously, how chaotic is Regent Street in the summer? I couldn’t imagine having to work there. A couple of hours later I found myself back in Hardy’s. The menu wasn’t as inspiring as usual and they had run out of Shepherd’s Pie, my alternative to fish and chips. In the end I ordered the Farmhouse Terrine to start, followed by fish and chips. There’s always next time!

Tuesday – Rest

The journey from London to Birmingham was uneventful. As an added bonus, the train to Four Oaks was so full of police, even the local troublemakers behaved. I should have completed a 20 minute run as soon as I got home, but I was hungry and couldn’t be bothered.

Wednesday – 20 mins steady

I must have subconsciously felt slightly guilty about skipping my run as I woke up well before my alarm. I contemplated getting my run done and dusted at 04:00, saw how dark it was and decided to wait until 05:30. Event though I felt tired I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I ‘enjoyed’ an extra long stretching and Pilates session. When I headed out the door at 05:30 I was well warmed-up and ready to run. The run itself was uneventful until I turned a corner and almost ran into an elderly man walking a dog. I’m not sure who was more startled, but the dog definitely made the most noise. I think I must have experienced some sort of adrenaline rush as I ran up one of my nemesis hills without stopping. Luckily I made it home without frightening any more dogs.

The rest of the day was so uneventful, I’ve decided not to bore you with the details.

Thursday – 10 mins steady

After my early (for me) start the previous day, I didn’t wake up until 07:00 and wasted the best part of the morning. I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, worked through some of my PF stretches and exercises, had a productive loo visit, pulled on my trainers and headed out the door. My Garmin took ages to pick up some signal and then went into standby mode. Fortunately, it was a case of second time lucky and my Garmin decided to function as a GPS. I set out at a sensible pace and found the 10 minute run so easy, I found myself questioning the point of running for ‘only’ 10 minutes.

Friday – Rest

I spent most of the morning helping my friend take a couple of loads of garden waste to the local tip. He takes me to all the best locations. Once I’d recovered from the excitement, I caught up on my emails and printed out the job descriptions of a couple of hydrologist jobs I’d spotted. One asked for a basic CV so I spent an hour tweaking my CV and then hit ‘submit’ before I could change my mind. The second application took me over five hours to complete. At least I had a reasonably productive day.

Saturday – 5k race or time-trial

After several days of uncertainty, my friend finally agreed to drive me across to my local parkrun at 08:30 on Saturday morning. Slightly stressful. I think we arrived at Walsall Arboretum with about 5 minutes to spare, not ideal when I need to warm-up before I run. It took less than a minute for me to realise that I had started too far back and I was stuck in first gear. I’d forgotten how to increase my pace, so much for a time trial. After three enjoyable laps around Hatherton Lake, I eventually crossed the line in 32:49. I was disappointed I’d missed out on a sub-30 minute time by almost three minutes. At least I ran jogged the whole 5k.Collage 20After spending the afternoon tackling the mountain of washing that had accumulated during the week, I found myself travelling across Birmingham to the university for a violin lesson. Thrilling! I *may* have treated myself to a pint in one of my local pubs on the way home.

Sunday – 10 mins very easy jog

The sun woke me at 06:30 – so much for a sneaky Sunday morning lie in – so I decided to get my 10 minute run done early. As soon as I got up, I discovered that both my right heel and knee were feeling a little sore. I decided to head out on my run to see how my heel and knee reacted. Fortunately, the pain more or less went away after I’d completed some stretches, so I was able to complete my 10 minute run.

So that’s week eight of my half marathon training plan completed, only another eight weeks so go. I think my take-home message was that I’ve completely lost the ability to run at anything other than a ‘steady’ pace. I need to remind myself that being able to run is a bonus. I also need to stop comparing this year’s training with what I was doing last year.

Next week’s training schedule consists of four runs and is described as the second ‘building phase’. I’m not sure what I’m meant to be ‘building’ towards, but I feel slightly apprehensive. I’ve got to complete a 10 minute run on Monday, 35 minute runs on Wednesday and Friday and a 65 minute ‘long’ run on Sunday. I don’t think I’ve run for more than an hour since last year’s Great Birmingham Run. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Training totals

  • Runs: 25
  • Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
  • Distance: 48.03 miles

 Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12


  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

A slightly random question, but who is your favourite Olympian? Mine is probably Nick Skelton.  

Is your local parkrun getting busier and busier? Walsall parkrun felt so crowded on Saturday, I’m not sure that the course could cope with too many more runners.