Rants and raves #29

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post while watching the football. Apologies for the inevitable spelling mistakes and typos. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: The Weather

After enduring a pretty disappointing first few months of the year, I’m making the most of the warmer weather. Walking to and from the office is no longer a chore, and I’m loving the sunshine and the blue skies.

Wallingford summer

I’m more fortune than most of my colleagues because although my office doesn’t have air conditioning, I have a window seat. This means that when I’m lucky, I get to sit in a breeze and don’t start to feel too warm until the afternoon. Thanks to my complete lack of ‘real-life’ commitments, I’m able to run when I want which really helps.

However, as a hydrologist, the lack of recent rainfall is getting a little concerning. If it doesn’t rain soon, work will be a nightmare so watch out for this rave cunningly turning into a rant.

Rave: Recognition as a blogger

I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but have been asked a couple of times to share this information so here goes. My blog was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 10 UK Women Running Blogs on the web.

Blog awardHere’s the link to the Top 10. Although there are lots of amazing blogs on there, the site is a little confusing as unless I’m being really dense, there only appear to be seven blogs in the list.

So thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my running-related ramblings.

Rant: Flying and biting insets and nettles

I know I complained about this 12 months ago, but there is a downside to the warmer weather; flying insects, insects that bite and stinging nettles.Nasty things

[Source]

I’ve lost count of the number of insects I’ve swallowed. I’ve also discovered that tiny black bugs in Wallingford *really* like fluorescent yellow running tops. Not ideal last week when I realised that all of the running tops I had in Wallingford were fluorescent yellow.

Rave: Running

Another repeat rave but *touch wood* and *fingers and toes crossed* my fragile body is behaving itself at the moment. After a couple of disappointing races, I took a couple of weeks off from running and embraced the drinking scene in Wallingford.

The drinking didn’t suit me so I charged up my Garmin and pulled on my trainers. Although my run on Thursday evening felt quite challenging, my five mile run on Sunday morning felt effortless. Training for Royal Parks Half Marathon starts in three weeks time and I can’t wait

As an added incentive to run regularly, I signed up as a member of #TeamSouth – there wasn’t a #TeamMidlands or #TeamCentral option – for the Run Around the World Challenge  in July.

Run Around the World

Mind is an amazing charity and the medal looks awesome. If you haven’t already signed up, check out the website!

Rant: Fundraising

Apologies in advance for what I have a feeling is another repeat rant. A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with Geoff in the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. Witnessing firsthand the amazing work the hospital does and meeting some seriously unwell people left me feeling incredibly fortunate. I also came away feeling even more determined to reach my £1000 fundraising target.

I shared my experience in a post on Farcebook and my fundraising total increased by the grand total of zero English pounds. I emailed the link to my fundraising page to a family member in the hope they’d add a donation and they completely ignored me. This family member was cured by the Royal Marsden so they have a personal connection to the charity.

I guess I’ve got quite a few more months to encourage irritate my friends and family on social media. As I don’t want to irritate everyone, I’ve set up a dedicated page on Farcebook.

Rant: My sun repelling legs

My arms are nicely tanned but my legs seem to be determined to repel the sun. They now look so white I’ve been considering investing in some fake tan. I’m just a little concerned I’ll repeat the great fake tanning disaster of 1999.

Rave: Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirts

I’ll end with a bonus rave; the link to a Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirt  I treated myself to last week.Marathon Talk runr tee

So much for my ‘ban’ on buying unessential running gear. By the way, I’m not on commission and haven’t been asked to share the link to this t-shirt, I just thought I’d share it on here as a ‘rave’.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. I’ve saved my major rant about Skimlinks and WordPress for another post. Anyway, I hope my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Have you been enjoying the heat wave or have you had enough of the hot weather? I love summer but wish my room in Wallingford wasn’t like a sauna.

Do you have any tops for cooling down after running when it’s hot? I seem to look like a beetroot for several hours after each run.

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Running goals for 2018: Progress report

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. As it’s now the beginning of July, I’ve decided to write a halfway(ish) through the year progress report on my 2018 running goals.

Raise £1000 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust – at the beginning of the year, I highlighted this as my main running related goal of the year.

Thanks to the amazing support of my friends, family and the online running community I raised over £500 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. I’ve now switched my attention to raising £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Fundraising is going quite well and I’m in the process of organising a couple of events at work.

Run 1000 km – I entered the 1000 km in 2018 challenge on Virtual Runner and was monitoring my progress online.

Thanks to a couple of niggles, I fear that this may well turn out to be one goal I fail to achieve. I ran 63km in January, 74km in February, 61km in March, 58km In April, 79km in May and 55km in June.

 I think it’s safe to say that at the moment, I’m a long, long way behind my target.

Complete 10 races – back in January, I was “quietly confident” I’d complete 10 races in 2018 and earn myself a few more running medals in the process.

Thanks to a badly timed dose of the lurgy and a race cancellation due to the ‘Beat from the East’ I’ve only managed to complete four races; the Cathedral to Castle Run, the Wallingford Thames Run 10k, the Great Midlands Fun Run and the Aldridge 10k. My Race Calendar looks quite full, so I’m confident that injury permitting, I’ll manage to complete another six races this year.

Complete 10 parkruns – After falling out of love with parkrun last year, I also set myself the target of completing 10 parkruns in 2018.

parkrun 2018 montage

I’m pleased to report that this is one running goal I’ll definitely achieve. So far I’ve completed eight parkruns, and as an added bonus, I’ve completed every one in under 30 minutes. I just need to learn how to push myself out of my comfort zone.

A sub 8 minute mile – I identified that my current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012 and wanted to lower my mile PB at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May.

I didn’t travel down to London for the Vitality Westminster Mile so I’m yet to attempt to lower my mile PB.

A sub 25 minute 5k – I knew that I’d find running 5k in under 25 minutes “incredibly challenging” but I was determined to give it a go.

Although all of my parkruns have been completed in under 30 minutes, I’m yet to get anywhere near the elusive 25 minute barrier. I’ve just looked at my parkrun results and the nearest I’ve got is 27:10. I think it’s safe to say this is another running goal I may well fail to achieve.

A sub 55 minute 10k – when I shared my running goals at the start of the year, I suspected I’d find running 10k in under 55 minutes virtually impossible, but entered the Vitality London 10,000 so that I had a flat and fast target event.

After a couple of slightly disappointing 10k races, I think I’m going to have to be realistic and will adjust this running goal to running 10k in under 60 minutes.  

A sub 2:20 half marathon – at the beginning in the year my running mojo had returned and training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March was going quite well.

Unfortunately, a work colleague very kindly shared her cough and cold with me and I didn’t travel to Cambridge. A couple of weeks later, I completed the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon with my running buddy Ellen in 2:27:32.

IMG_1028

Earlier this year, I discovered that I had ‘won’ a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon and *fingers crossed* will run the 13.1 miles in a slightly more respectable time.

Listen to my niggles – as I’m such an injury-prone runner, I was determined to continue to listen to and to closely monitor my niggles.

Although I’ve already had a couple of niggles, I’ve been sensible and haven’t attempted to run through my injuries this year. Hopefully, *touch wood etc* this slightly more sensible approach will enable me to enjoy another six months of injury-free running.  

Make friends with strength and conditioning – I identified this as an area I’d neglected in the past. I was going to join the gym near my office and to “make friends” with strength and conditioning.

I think it’s safe to say that this is an area I still need to work on! After a bit of research, I decided not to join the gym near my office and have yet to make friends with strength and conditioning.  

Be slightly more sociable – after setting this as a running goal last year and failing miserably, I decided to set myself the same goal again.

I’m pleased to report that I have been what I call slightly more sociable. I’ve made more effort to talk to people before and after parkrun and now feel like a member of my local parkrun community. I’ve attended a few training sessions with Run Wallingford and have enjoyed (sort of) being pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve also made a couple of awesome running friends. Thanks for all of your amazing support Ellen!  

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – after “smashing” this running goal in 2017, I decided to set myself the same goal.

I think it’s safe to say I’m not doing very well at not buying unessential running gear. While I can probably class the replacement Garmin and new trainers as essential running gear, I didn’t *need* the Lululemon skort and vest I bought last week. Unfortunately, the Lululemon sale was too good to ignore!  

Oh well, sometimes it’s good to fail…

How are you progressing with your running goals for 2018?

Do you adjust goals if you know they are too challenging?

New Event: The Ciderthon (and discount code)

Like the majority of runners, I love taking part in organised events and races. In my opinion, nothing beats the feeling of crossing the finish line of a race.

Last week, I received some information about a new event called the Ciderthon. As a cider lover, I was incredibly disappointed when I realised that I had already entered a 10k race on the same day.

The Ciderthon

The Ciderthon is a half marathon with a cider taster at every mile and will take place on Sunday 29th April in Wells, Somerset.

Ciderthon

The event will be showcasing local ciders, raising money for Dorset and Somerset air ambulance while bringing runners from across the country to try a new challenge.

The Ciderthon starts at 11am and has a cut-off time of 5pm.

The route is one lap starting and finishing in Wells Market Place, Somerset. The route is undulating and multi-terrain with a bias towards road.

The Ciderthon is an untimed run, however, the roads will be closed and there will be stewards to support participants until the last runner goes past.

The event will be showcasing local ciders – I’ve checked out the website and the ciders that will be on offer look amazing.

How to enter

Tickets for the Ciderthon are available here and if you use the code EMMA10 you will receive a 10% discount.

With your ticket you will receive:

  • 13 x Cider tasters
  • Ciderthon medal
  • T-shirt

For more detailed information please check out the dedicated race website.

A parkrun and a half marathon

I hope that everyone had a great weekend, at least Monday is now out of the way and it’s a short week. Apologies for the recent blog silence, life has been quite quiet recently and I haven’t had much to write about.

I had an amazing weekend and after I had to miss Cambridge earlier this month, I finally completed a half marathon run.

On Saturday morning I was woken up at 06:00 by what sounded like someone trying to break into my bedroom window. I looked outside, and realised that the ‘burglars’ were in fact starlings. After trying and failing to get back to sleep, I dragged myself out of bed and got changed into some running gear. I discovered that I’d left my hairbrush and running gloves in Wallingford. Luckily, I have hair that is so fine it doesn’t really need brushing.

The journey to parkrun was as late and as stressful as always. I’m scared to complain because my friend is doing me a massive favour driving me to the Arboretum, but it would be nice to arrive with enough time to warm up, get nearer the front etc.

I made it to the start area just in time for the pre-race briefing and managed to navigate myself a little nearer the front. It still took me 30 seconds to cross the line and my first mile was the slowest as there were limited overtaking opportunities.

Walsall 1[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I felt great throughout the first couple of laps and managed to increase my pace throughout the third and final lap around the lake. I crossed the line in approx 29:04 and was handed token number 211. I was aware that people around me were really out of breath, I felt fine so perhaps it’s time for me to see what happens when I increase my pace. Let’s face it, I’m never going to get a sub-25 time if I take it easy.

I got home, had a quick shower and then headed to the Chase Farm Shop with mother and my stepdad Colin for a late breakfast/early lunch.  By this stage I was feeling rather hungry so I opted for an unhealthy Club sandwich and an extra bowl of chips.Club sarnieMuch to the horror of my mother, I managed to clear my plate in less than 5 minutes. I seriously regretted not ordering a pudding.

The rest of Saturday was incredibly boring. I had loads of housework and washing and ironing to catch-up on. I think the highlight of the afternoon was my new Garmin arriving. I’m easily pleased. As I was aware I would be attempting to run 13.1 miles the next morning, I made myself eat a huge bowl of pasta, kept myself reasonably hydrated and went to bed at a sensible time.

On Sunday morning, I was woken up by my starling friends again at 07:00. I wasn’t due to meet up with Ellen until 09:00 so I had plenty of time to faff around. I made myself eat a banana and a couple of weetabix and drank a glass of orange nuun.

As I walked the short distance to Ellen’s house I realised that we were incredibly lucky as the weather was pretty much perfect for running. It was quite chilly so I wore a long sleeved top – I’d later regret this decision. I also left my water at home.

At 09:00 we set off on the inaugural Four Oaks half marathon. I’d worked out a reasonably ‘hill free’ route around Four Oaks, nothing could possibly go wrong. We both had money and phones so that we could be rescued if needed.

The first couple of miles were easy but I soon realised I was wearing two too many layers on my top half. After running in cold temperatures for so long, I wasn’t used to running in slightly warmer temperatures. I definitely didn’t need a t-shirt, a long-sleeved top and gilet!

The route of the Four Oaks half wasn’t scenic but it was reasonably runner friendly. There weren’t any toilets or water stations and the only support we got was from other runners and people walking their dogs.

Unfortunately, by 10 miles I was really struggling; my mouth felt like the Sahara Desert and I was starting to feel quite woozy. The hill from Mere Green up to All Saint’s Church nearly finished me off. Thanks to Ellen, I just about managed to keep running.

I can’t really remember much of the final 3 and a bit miles, probably not a good sign. With about a mile and a half to go, I’m ashamed to admit that I slowed to a walk. I told Ellen to run on ahead and told her that I’d run walk to the finish. I crossed the imaginary finish line and walked the short distance to Ellen’s house. I can honestly say that the two pints of South Staffs water I knocked back tasted amazing.

IMG_1028We posed for a quick ‘after’ photo, sat down for a couple of minutes and then said our goodbyes.

The mile or so walk back took ages because I was trying and failing to get a decent selfie – I guess the camera doesn’t lie – but definitely helped my legs recover from the run.

Post run selfie

I got home, drank another glass of orange nuun, had a shower and then headed back to bed for a nap. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up much better.

I’ve now had 24 hours to reflect on what went wrong in the final stages of the half marathon. I clearly wore too many layers and didn’t drink enough water. I also felt incredibly underprepared and don’t think I squeezed in enough longer training runs in weeks before. Although the dodgy weather didn’t help, I could have fitted in a few more runs after work.

Now that I’ve completed a half marathon, I feel that I’ve done something to justify the £500 I raised for charity. Once my legs and right knee have recovered, I’m going to focus on slightly shorter distances.  I’m determined to bring my parkrun time down and I’ve entered several 10k races. I’m not very good at conquering hills, so my longer Sunday morning runs will be replaced with shorter, hilly runs.

Rants and raves #25

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after the snowy weather meant that the 7 Pools Run was postponed. As a result, I’m feeling a little frustrated. I’m also a little grumpy because I have a feeling that the weather will make my journey back to Wallingford more challenging (and longer!) than normal. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other far less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Running in Wallingford

After spending a couple of months living (sort of) and working in Wallingford, I’m starting to appreciate the town a little bit more. Wallingford is small and has a ridiculous number of pubs, but the majority of people I’ve met are incredibly friendly.

I’ve already mentioned Run Wallingford. I’m now thinking about trying out one of Wallingford Triathlon Club’s coached Thursday evening running sessions. I bumped into them last month and was invited to join them, I just hope that they realise I’m never going to do a triathlon!

Rant: Public transport, again

On Friday, thanks to the flexitime system at work, I left the office at 15:00, and started the journey from Wallingford to Four Oaks. The journey was going well until a woman ignored several other empty seats and sat next to me. I’ve already complained about #manspreaders on public transport, this lady managed to outdo them all. Luckily, she got off at Leamington Spa, as I was starting to feel quite claustrophobic squashed into a corner.

The train reached Birmingham, and before everyone had got off, people started to barge their way onto the train. Awesome, I hate people who do this. I navigated my way to Platform 8, and discovered that the train to Lichfield was running 10 minutes late, again. The train arrived, people got off and a huge number of people – it was Friday rush-hour – tried to get on. I spotted a seat with a bag on it and politely asked the owner of the bag if she could move the bag. I was so taken aback when she said “no” I decided to sit on her precious bag.

I wrote a quick tweet about ‘bag lady’ – apologies for the appalling grammar, but I was aware that she was fuming, and shared it. Unfortunately, my phone died, so I wasn’t able to see all the likes and comments.

tweet

Thanks for all of the support. I get the feeling that a lot of people have had similar experiences. Hopefully, ‘bag lady’ will realise that seats on busy, rush-hour trains are for people and not for bags. After all, I doubt her bag had a ticket.

Rave: parkrun  

I kept quiet about how I felt at the time, but towards the middle of last year, I completely fell out of love with parkrun. While the majority of runners looked forward to their weekly dose of parkrun, I preferred to lie in bed feeling lazy.ParkrunFast forward six months and I’m pleased to report that I’m finally feeling the parkrun love again. I just need to work out how to catch the attention of the official photographer at my local parkrun.

Rant: Random weather

What on earth is going on with the weather at the moment? On Friday, it was sunny and warm, on Saturday it snowed on and off all day and yesterday the weather was rubbish. The dubious weather forecast led to the cancellation and postponement of quite a few local races including the Ashby 20, the Coventry and the Stafford Half marathons and the 7 Pools Run.BBC Weather SundayAfter DNSing the Cambridge Half due to illness earlier this month, I was really looking forward to the 7 Pools Run in Sutton Park. I thought that a 10k cross country run in a park was more or less guaranteed to take place. Unfortunately, the race organisers decided to postpone the race. I’ve got everything crossed they manage to find an alternative date.

Rave: The online running community

After a slightly steady start, I raised over £500 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. When I looked through my supporters, I discovered that the vast majority were runners I’ve never actually met in real life. The online running community – especially Fetcheveryone – is bloody amazing.

I’m a glutton for punishment and have decided to attempt to raise £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. I’ve got until October and will be harassing contacting some of Geoff’s ex-colleagues.

Rant: Office heroes

It’s only March, and I’ve already had several coughs, colds and sore throats. A poorly timed sore throat and cough resulted in me DNSing the Cambridge Half earlier this month. Although I’m blaming public transport for some of my illness woes, I’m also blaming people who come into the office when they are ill.sick-office-employees-cartoon-598x325

[Source]

As I can’t avoid travelling on buses and trains and spending over 39 hours a week in a warm and potentially lurgy-filled office, I’m going to have to find ways to boost my incredibly fragile immune system. I can’t DNS any more races due to illness!

Rave: Learning how to say no

It’s taken me 35+ years, but I’ve finally sussed out how to say “no” to people. I’ve also stopped trying to please everyone. Once I’ve overcome the initial feelings of guilt, it feels great. I’ve also found the confidence to decline quite a few questionable blogging opportunities.

Once again, if you’ve made it to the end of my latest collection of random rants and raves then thanks!

Have you ever fallen out of love with parkrun?

Did the recent bad weather impact your training and racing plans?

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 12

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. My weekend unfortunately didn’t exactly go to plan…Collage 34The final week of my 12 week ‘intermediate’ half marathon training plan contained three training runs, three rest days and ended with the Cambridge Half. Thanks to the weather and my fear of running in icy conditions, all of the runs were replaced with rest days. I was definitely very well rested before Cambridge.

So how did I get on during the final week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

A lack of direct trains between Birmingham and Oxford on Sunday meant that I booked Monday off as annual leave. Although I enjoyed the longer weekend, I’d rather use my annual leave for ‘proper’ holidays. Rather predictably, I wasted far too much time on Monday checking the trains and the weather forecast for the week ahead. I spent the morning getting everything organised for my trip to Cambridge.

After some world-class procrastinating and weather watching, I spent a couple of hours putting together a presentation on some of the outcomes of my doctoral research. Not the best use of annual leave. I arrived back in Wallingford at 21:00 and discovered that one of my housemates had left the front door wide open. Not ideal as the house was freezing. I got ready for my meeting in London and headed to bed in an attempt to get warm.

Tuesday – Rest

Following a slightly delayed arrival into London, I arrived at my meeting near Westminster with about a minute to spare. Perfect timing!? After a lot of debate about the snow and potential train cancellations, the meeting finished an hour early and we made our way to the nearest tube station. One minute the sky was blue, the next minute it went dark and we found ourselves walking in a blizzard. I said goodbye to my colleagues and 15 minutes later found myself walking along a rather slippery Regent Street – trainers weren’t the best choice of footwear – to meet up with Geoff.Collage 35I tracked down Geoff and we headed into Marylebone for a late lunch. After a bit of debate about what we actually wanted to eat, we ended up in Honest Burger near Baker Street. My free-range chicken burger was okay but a little dry and tasteless. Next time I’ll suggest we opt for pizzas rather than so-called fancy burgers.

I had a somewhat ‘eventful’ journey from London to Wallingford. Thanks to tube, train and bus delays, I didn’t get back to Wallingford until quite late. I took one look at the icy pavements and decided not to attempt my 40 minute easy run. This set the tone for the remainder of the week.

Wednesday – Rest

Thanks to the combination of dazzling sunshine, icy pavements and my fear of slipping over, my walk into work took ages. Once again, I was reminded that having long legs and no coordination is never a winning combination. Although I’m enjoying my job, the highlight of the day was the seriously impressive BLT sandwich I had for lunch. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water. Following my slightly hazardous walk into the office, I was relieved when I discovered that the pavements were more or less completely clear on the walk home. I thought about meeting up with Run Wallingford to do my 30 minute tempo run, but decided not to risk it.

Thursday – Rest

We had some snow overnight, but not enough to prevent me from walking into the office. I was the only person in from my team; I appreciated the peace and quiet. I decided to escape an hour earlier than usual as I wanted to pop into the sports shop in Wallingford to buy myself a Run Wallingford t-shirt. I made the right decision as the conditions worsened during my walk, one minute the roads were clear, the next they were completely grid-locked and nothing was moving. I bought my t-shirt – definitely an essential running related purchase – and managed to make it back to my room without falling over.Collage 36I was packing my bags and making sure I’d got everything I needed for the weekend when I received a text alert; all offices would be closed on Friday. I looked outside and had a bit of a shock, I hadn’t realised how bad the snow had got. I realised I probably wouldn’t be able to travel home, and that the Cambridge Half would take place without me. I’m ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears of frustration.

Friday – Rest

Thanks to #StormEmma – the irony – and the snowy conditions, my final training run of week 12 didn’t happen. As the office was closed and the weather was meant to deteriorate during the day, I decided to leave Wallingford early. The bus journey from Wallingford to Four oaks was a lot faster than usual and three hours after leaving Wallingford, I reached Four Oaks. I spent a few hours finishing off a couple of pieces of work and then got my running gear together for Cambridge. Shortly after lunchtime it started to snow in Four Oaks, the snow continued all day, and I started to worry about getting to Cambridge. I headed to bed early as the sore throat I’d been nursing all week had suddenly got a lot worse.

Saturday – Rest

I checked the Cambridge Half page and the trains the second I woke up. According to the event organisers the half marathon was still going ahead as planned. The local trains, however, were running but with severe delays. I got up, had a shower, got dressed and made myself eat a huge breakfast. I packed my bags and walked the short distance to the local train station.Collage 37Unfortunately, this short walk left me feeling so shattered and light-headed; I reluctantly accepted that attempting to run a half marathon wouldn’t have been sensible. I walked home, cancelled my hotel room, applied for a train ticket refund, apologised to all my sponsors and headed to bed.

Sunday – Rest

I spent most of Sunday doing four things; sleeping, experiencing severe race #FOMO, researching alternative half marathons and summer races. If I’m feeling better, I’ll be running in an exclusive event next Sunday; the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon. There won’t be a medal and goody bag waiting for me at the finish line, but I know that I’ll feel a lot better for running a half marathon.

So a huge “thanks” to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my series of Cambridge Half training updates. After raising a lot of money for charity, I’m devastated that I didn’t make it to the start line. I know that I made the right decision but I’m still feeling incredibly disappointed.  It’s been an eventful training cycle; I’ve relocated (sort of) to Wallingford, started a new job and joined a new running group. Hopefully my next training cycle will be slightly less stressful.

Training totals:

  • Runs: 35
  • Time: 24 hours 29 mins
  • Distance: 144.27 miles

Final niggleometer:

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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 11

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were catching up on some much needed sleep and completing a 6 mile run.

I can’t believe that this time next week I will have successfully *touches wood* completed the Cambridge Half Marathon. I’m trying not to let the dubious weather forecasts stress me out.Collage 31Following a much needed rest day on Monday, an unscheduled trip to a couple of pubs meant that I postponed my run on Tuesday. I plucked up the courage to attend my third training session with Run Wallingford on Wednesday. Although I felt shattered, I managed to complete a 50 minute easy run on Thursday, a 40 minute stair session on Friday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a six mile run yesterday.

So how did my incredibly fragile body cope during the penultimate week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

As always, I found getting out of bed at 07:00 on Monday morning more than a little challenging. I’ve no idea why I felt so tired because I got a reasonable night’s sleep. I even managed to sleep through the usual early morning kitchen noise. After a slightly ‘difficult’ day in the office, I walked back home and headed to my room for a nap. I didn’t get to spend long in my room. One minute I was having a lie down, the next minute I found myself drinking a pint in The Queen’s Head in Crowmarsh with one of my housemates. Spooky! As I was feeling quite tired and hungry, the sensible option would have been to go home after one drink. I’m not sensible and ended up watching the football and drinking a couple more pints in The George Hotel. It was good to see a tiny bit more of Wallingford.

Tuesday – Rest

Once again, my long ‘easy’ run didn’t happen. I can’t remember exactly when, but one minute I was fast asleep, the next I was lying in my bed in agony because my left calf had gone into spasm. My calf was still sore when I got up – even walking the short distance to the bus stop was painful – so I decided to give myself an extra rest day.Collage 33Following a long and hot bus journey into Reading – not ideal with a slightly iffy head, I spent the morning and early afternoon in a series of meetings and training sessions. I left the office and less than 45 minutes later was in London for the first time since December. After the emptiness and silence of Wallingford, the crowds of people and noise took a little getting used to. I called into my old university to collect some paperwork and then met up with my mentor and close friend Geoff for the first time this year. Geoff was as positive as always, and I went away from our all too brief catch-up feeling a lot better about a few career related issues. The journey back to Wallingford was long but stress free and I fell into bed at 22:30.

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

I spent most of the day inspecting hydrometric monitoring sites with a colleague. Although it was incredibly cold, I definitely enjoyed getting away from my desk for a few hours. It’s just a shame I had to pop back into the office for an hour to answer a few emails. Following a trip to Waitrose and quick power nap, I got changed into some running gear and met up with the Run Wallingford group. The training session was a little unusual as a representative from Skins had come along to give a quick presentation on the science of compression and 20 members of the group were testing out a pair of Skins tights.Collage 32The talk was interesting but didn’t do enough to convince me to break my buying new running gear ban. The run around the streets of Wallingford was probably a little fast for me, but I enjoyed running with someone else for the first time in a few weeks. I almost got gritted twice and fell down a pothole. I was quite relieved to make it back from the training run in one piece.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

I escaped from the office at 17:30, got back to my room and then spent what felt like ages watching rubbish on my laptop and generally avoiding getting changed into my running gear. I doubt my 50 minute easy run would have happened had it not been for the generosity of another runner. The email from Just Giving spurred me into action and 10 minutes later I was outside in the cold waiting for my Garmin to work. Once I’d warmed up, the rest of my 50 minute run around Wallingford felt niggle free and fairly easy. It’s just a shame it took me ages to get warm again after my run.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

Thanks to the wonders of flexitime, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home 3.5 hours later. I switched on the heating – for some reason it had turned itself off which wasn’t ideal, had a quick shower, changed into some gym gear, ordered myself a Chinese takeaway and then completed a 40 minute stair session. Although the stair session was incredibly boring and the 40 minutes felt like an hour, my dodgy knee and calf muscles felt reasonably niggle free. I finished the torture stair session feeling confident that weather permitting I’d be able to complete my two weekend runs.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

With just over a week to go until the Cambridge Half, I rather reluctantly gave parkrun a miss and stayed at home. As I wanted to save my legs (and niggles) for my 6 mile run at race pace, I left my Garmin at home and enjoyed a ‘naked’ run. The cold weather unfortunately meant that my speed work session was anything but speedy.

When I got back from my run I really struggled to get warm. I decided that sitting around inside probably wasn’t helping, so I made a start on my list of weekend chores. A couple of hours later I’d collected my online order from Sutton Coldfield, called into the local florists and ordered some flowers for Mothers Day and tackled the ironing mountain. I also spent almost £200 booking my accommodation and train tickets for Cambridge, so much for running being an inexpensive sport!

Sunday – 6 miles steady

I took one look out of my bedroom window at 06:00, saw how icy it was and went back to bed as I didn’t want to risk falling over so close to Cambridge. After a much needed lie-in, I spent the morning stressing myself out by trying to work out how I’m going to fit in everything next weekend. At the moment I’m travelling home on Friday evening, from Birmingham to Cambridge at lunchtime on Saturday and returning on Monday morning. I had originally planned to return home on Sunday, but there aren’t any trains. I’m going to have to be super productive on Friday and Saturday, as I won’t have much time at home on Monday.

After spending the majority of Sunday afternoon getting myself incredibly worked up about the weather forecast for next week, a couple of work related issues and the half marathon, I decided a run would help to clear my mind. Although my niggles behaved themselves during the 6 mile run, I felt incredibly unfit and spent the final mile obsessively checking my Garmin. Not the best way to end the penultimate week of training!

So that’s week 11 of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed. Only another week to go. I had to switch some of my training sessions around but managed to complete all of my runs.

The final week of my Cambridge Half training plan looks both enjoyable and achievable. Injuries and weather permitting, I’m scheduled to complete three training runs and then if everything goes to plan, the Cambridge Half Marathon on Sunday. I’m not convinced I’m ready to run 13.1 miles! I’ve got to complete a 40 minute long easy runs on Tuesday and Friday and a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday.

In order to get me to the start line, my coach has kindly allocated me rest days on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. I’m going to make sure that I do some sort of strength and conditioning on Monday and Thursday and will dig out my foam roller on Saturday morning.

Training totals

  • Runs: 35
  • Time: 24 hours 29 mins
  • Distance: 144.27 miles

Niggleometer

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