Great Birmingham Run training week 6

Once again, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I can’t believe that I’ve more or less successfully completed a third of my half marathon training.Collage 12The first couple of runs looked relatively simple. I was to run for 20 minutes on Tuesday and 30 minutes on Thursday. Both runs were to be completed at an “easy” pace. The third run, however, looked slightly more challenging. The training plan gave me the option of running for between 40 and 45 minutes at a “very easy pace”. Although I found running for 35 minutes last Sunday relatively easy, I was concerned that I would struggle to run for an additional 10 minutes. So how did I find the sixth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Fortunately, week 6 started with my favourite component of any training plan – a rest day. Have I mentioned just how much I love rest days? I’ve never really understood why some runners find taking a day off from running so difficult. Once again I spent the morning catching up on emails and planning out the week ahead and the afternoon job hunting. Exciting stuff!

Tuesday – 20 mins easy

Like last Tuesday, I struggled to drag myself out of bed at 05:30 to get my 20 minute run completed before Four Oaks woke up. I eventually headed out on my run after 08:00. I probably should have stayed at home as my run was rubbish.  Once again, I managed to get my pacing completely wrong and set out at an unsustainable pace. Just to add to my woes, it was windy and I felt like I was running constantly into the wind. After 15 minutes I walked for a couple of seconds and then felt like I’d failed. Not the most positive start to week 6.

The rest of Tuesday was so mundane and uneventful; I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Wednesday – Rest

Another rather mundane and generally restful rest day. Once I’d spent most of the day working on job applications and my latest academic masterpiece, I felt like I needed to get out of the house. Thirty minutes later I found myself walking around the top end of Sutton Park.Collage 13Although it rained and I got soaked to the skin, walking helped me to relax and forget about my job hunting woes for a couple of hours.

Thursday – Rest

I should have completed an easy 30 minute run on Thursday, however, when I woke up, my right heel felt a little niggly after my epic walk in Sutton Park. Looking back, my walking shoes probably weren’t quite supportive enough. As I knew my heel just needed a bit of time to recover, I decided to be sensible and swapped my run for a rest day.

Friday – 30 mins easy

For some reason, I really struggled to sleep on Thursday night/Friday morning. I remember checking twitter at 02:30, not ideal when my alarm was set for 05:30. When my alarm woke me, I felt really tired – you can tell I haven’t had children! – and doubted I’d be able to run for 30 minutes. After lying in bed debating missing my run, I decided to get up and run. I got dressed, worked my way through my PF stretches and exercises, went to the loo, turned on my Garmin and headed out on my run. I was sensible and set out at a very steady pace and found running for 30 minutes quite easy. Running can be so unpredictable.

After spending the rest of the day working on a job application, reading about recycled water, vacuuming, sleeping and replying to a couple of blog related emails, I settled down to watch the athletics. How amazing was Mo Farah in the 10,000m? I don’t think I’ve ever watched such a stressful race, there was so much drama towards the end. I’d love to be able to run 5k in his winning time of 26 minutes 49 seconds!

Saturday – Rest

I spent the morning and early afternoon watching the athletics on the BBC. I also spent a bit of time preparing for my violin lesson. I’m sure that most sensible people spent their Saturday evening either watching sports or spending time with friends and family. Unfortunately, I had a violin lesson I couldn’t miss and found myself sharing a train with loads of slightly merry football supporters. At least my violin lesson prevented me from enjoying a few too many pints of Stella, before my long (for me) run the following morning.Collage 14Birmingham University is very quiet at this time of the year. After my violin lesson I went for a quick stroll around the campus and tracked down another Big Sleuth bear. A delayed train meant that I missed the men’s 100m final. I don’t think I missed much.

Sunday – 40-45 mins very easy pace

I woke up feeling great at 05:30. After lying in bed for a minutes telling myself that I could run for 45 minutes, I got up, got dressed, had a successful loo visit and spent 30 minutes working my way through my PF stretches and exercises. By the way, although it’s only the sixth week of training, I’m already fed up with doing the same old stretches. I made myself drink a glass of water and orange nuun, switched on my Garmin and headed out the door.

Conditions were perfect and I was sensible and made sure that I set out at a steady pace. Although I found running for 45 minutes a lot easier than I thought I would, I felt tired during the final five minutes and wouldn’t have been able to carry on running for much longer. Rather worryingly, the ache in my left foot made itself known throughout the run. Please don’t be another stress fracture.

I returned from my run, did a few half-hearted stretches, drank some more orange nuun and iced my right foot. By the time I’d had a shower it was getting quite late, so I reluctantly made a start on the mountain of washing that had accumulated during the week. I spent the rest of the day watching the men’s and women’s marathons and random track and field events. I think I’m going to have to ban myself from watching athletics during the daytime.

So that’s week six of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed, only another 10 weeks to go. I was reminded that I’m definitely an early morning runner – slightly concerning given that the Great Birmingham Run starts at lunchtime – and that I need to remember to cool-down and stretch after every run.

Next week’s training schedule comprises of four runs for the first time and is described as a “peak training week”. Hopefully my right heel will cope with the extra run… I’ve got to complete a steady 20 minute run on Monday, a steady 30 minute run on Wednesday and a 10 minute “easy jog” on Friday. On Sunday the plan gives me the option of running without taking any sneaky walking breaks for between 50 and 55 minutes. Although I’m not as fit as I was 12 months ago, I’m going to do my best to run for 55 minutes.

 Training totals

  • Runs: 18
  • Time: 6 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 33.70 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 6/10

Have you ever had a really good run when you’ve not felt great? I seem to run better when I’m not feeling 100 per cent.

What are your favourite track and field events? Mine are the sprint hurdles and the pole vault.

 

Learning to pace myself when I run and an introduction to Pacebands.co.uk

My recent half marathon training runs have demonstrated that I’m unfit compared to last year, comparison (with my training last year) is the thief of joy and I urgently need to learn how to pace my “easy” runs.

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At the moment, I feel so good when I head out the door, I’m tending to start my runs at a pace I’m not able to sustain. I find myself struggling to run, or in some cases, taking a couple of sneaky walking breaks. Although I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with walking, I shouldn’t really need to walk during an “easy” 20 minute run.

My issues with pacing are unfortunately nothing new.

Last year, I shared my goals for my target event of 2016; the Great Birmingham Run.

Rather predictably, on the day of the race I set out at an unsustainable pace, and struggled throughout the final 10k. Looking back, I made two fundamental mistakes. My Garmin was set to kilometres rather than miles, and I hadn’t worked out what pace I needed to run at to meet my time goals.

I was over-confident and thought that I was experienced enough as a runner to be able to pace my race by feel. I was wrong. As a minimum I should have referred to a half marathon pace chart before the race.

Although my pacing is still a bit hit-and-miss, I’m doing everything I can to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes during this year’s Great Birmingham Run. In an ideal world, I would track down one of the official race pacers and let them do the pacing for me. However, I’m not 100 per cent certain there will be official pacers this year. In addition, there’s every chance I won’t spot the pacers. I didn’t last year!

Pacebands.co.uk

Fortunately, the lovely people at Pacebands.co.uk recently sent me a selection of Pacebands to hopefully help me with my pacing.Pacebands logo

Pacebands.co.uk is a small start-up born out of frustration: the vast majority of races in the UK, even those with several thousand runners, don’t offer a Paceband on race day. As a result, Pacebands.co.uk was launched with the aim of providing an efficient service to runners looking for an inexpensive but professional pacing solution before a target race.

What are Pacebands?

Pacebands are simple, disposable wristbands that list the time at which a runner should pass each mile (or kilometre) marker of their chosen distance, in order to meet their target time. Pacebands are manufactured from durable Tyvek, are designed to be used once, are durable and should withstand all weather conditions.

Pacebands 1

All you need is a basic sports watch or GPS and a Paceband. In theory you can then adjust your effort to make sure you run an evenly paced race, giving yourself the best chance of meeting your time goal.

If you want to find out more visit Pacebands.co.uk or visit the shop section of the website where you will find a selection of Pacebands for the 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon distance.

I’ll definitely be wearing one of the half marathon Pacebands I was sent when I take on the Great Birmingham Run in October. You never know, it might just help me run at a more sensible pace!

Do you have any tips that might help me improve my pacing? So far I’ve tried listening to music, running on a dreadmill, constantly staring at my Garmin and

**Full disclosure: I was sent a selection of Pacebands for free. I did not receive any payment from Pacebands.co.uk and as always all opinions and photographs are my own**

Great Birmingham Run training week 5

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I can’t believe that it’s almost August, time really does seem to fly as you get older.Collage 9Week 5 saw me complete the third and final week of the ‘building’ phase of my half marathon training plan. It also saw me adopt a new, hopefully more positive approach to my running. If I’m honest, during the last four weeks, I haven’t always enjoyed my training runs. My rather injury-prone body means that a ‘proper’ injury could strike at any moment, so I’ve decided to try to enjoy every run. My training during week 5 comprised of 20 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday and a slightly longer 35 minute run on Sunday. So how did I find the fifth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

I spent the majority of the morning catching up on some overdue boring admin tasks. Although I’m 38, I’m not very organised and I’m useless at prioritising and responding to emails. I spent the afternoon job hunting and updating my LinkedIn and ResearchGate profiles and the evening working on a book review. Another dull but incredibly productive start to the week.

Tuesday – 20 mins easy

I had originally planned to get up early to get my 20 minute run done and dusted before 06:00. Unfortunately, insomnia struck again, I was still awake at 01:30 and somehow managed to sleep through my 05:30 alarm. I eventually headed out on my run after 08:00. Although the schools have finished for the summer, the 2 mile route I had selected was quite busy and I found myself dodging several dog walkers, smokers and oblivious drivers. Week five had got off to a positive start.

After spending the rest of the morning preparing for a meeting, I boarded the 12:50 train to London Euston. This time the signals behaved themselves and I actually made it to my meeting with the careers office. Meeting over, I headed across to the Gunmakers pub to meet up with my mentor. As we had both missed lunch and it was far too early for a main evening meal, we decided to have a look at the bar snack menu. Although the menu was quite limited  I decided to try the Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich. It was ‘interesting’.Collage 10A couple of hours later I found myself back in Hardy’s, ordering fish and chips followed by Gooseberry Fool. My friend tried and failed to convince me to order something different. When it comes to food my motto has and always will be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Wednesday – Rest

The train journey from London to Birmingham was uneventful; the journey from Birmingham to Four Oaks was a nightmare. Once I’d recovered from the train journey from hell, I decided to start mapping out the academic paper I’d rather foolishly promised my PhD supervisor I’d complete by the middle of August. Given that it took me six months to write my last paper, I suspect my supervisor will be disappointed.

Thursday – 20 mins easy

As Tuesday’s 20 minute easy run had felt relatively easy, I decided to attempt my slightly more challenging two-mile loop. After spending the morning making very little progress on my academic paper, by lunchtime I felt more than ready for my 20 minute run. I got changed into some running gear, spent 30 minutes working through my PF exercises and stretches, looked out the window and saw it was raining. I love running in the rain, so I pulled on my waterproof running jacket and headed out the door.

Unfortunately, I’d only been running for a minute or so when the rain stopped and the sun came out. Next time, I won’t trust the BBC forecast! I realised that I’d set out at a pace I couldn’t maintain and that I was rapidly overheating. I could feel my face getting warmer and warmer. I think I managed to run for about 15 minutes before I slowed to a walk so that I could remove my jacket. Although I immediately felt cooler, the damage had been done and the rest of the ‘run’ was a struggle. So much for not complaining and enjoying each and every run!

Friday – Rest

When I woke up I discovered that I’d got a pretty bad headache. Although I don’t think it was a migraine, I felt so nauseous and dizzy, running probably wouldn’t have been sensible. Fortunately, Friday was a rest day so I didn’t have to spend hours mentally debating the pros and cons of running with a bad head. My headache unfortunately meant that I had a seriously unproductive day. At least it was an incredibly restful rest day.

Saturday – Rest

After somehow sleeping for more than 10 hours, I woke up feeling refreshed and headache free. A great start to the weekend. I spent the morning catching up on the household chores I’d been unable to complete the previous day. As an added bonus I finally finished a couple of slightly overdue product reviews.Collage 11In the evening, I swapped my trainers and scruffy clothes for something slightly more respectable, and met up with some friends for a meal and drinks at the local pub. As I knew I would be attempting to run for 35 minutes the following morning, I was reasonably sensible and limited myself to three pints. My friends were suitably unimpressed. Apparently I’m quite boring when I’m sober(ish). As I didn’t want to wake up feeling dehydrated, I made myself drink a pink of water before I went to bed.

Sunday – 35 mins easy

When my alarm woke me at 06:00 my mouth felt like the Sahara and I felt like death warmed up. After debating postponing my run, I made myself get out of bed, got dressed, had a drink, worked my way through some PF stretches, went to the loo and headed out the door. Fortunately, although it was reasonably sunny it was lovely and cool.  After struggling to run for 20 minutes on Thursday, I was sensible and made sure that I set out at a sensible pace. My approach worked and I found the 35 minute run reasonably easy.

So that’s the fifth week of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed, only another 11 weeks to go. Once again, I was reminded that I’m still pretty useless at pacing myself, and that I need to start my training runs at a pace I can sustain. Next week’s training schedule contains a 20 minute run, a 30 minute run and a longer 40-45 minute run on Sunday. Last year I aimed to run for 45 minutes, this year it will be a miracle if I manage to run for 40 minutes.

Training totals

  • Runs: 15
  • Time: 4 hours 25 mins
  • Distance: 24.94 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 6/10

Do you tend to always order the same food when you eat out? I’d like to think that other people are slightly more ambitious than I am.

How much sleep do you aim to get each night? At the moment my sleep patterns are all over the place.

Great Birmingham Run training week 4

Once again, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. Thanks for all of the comments on my last training update. As my family and friends don’t understand my obsession with running, I really do appreciate all of the support.Collage 8Week 4 saw me complete the second week of the ‘building’ phase of my beginners’ half marathon training plan. The plan comprised of a back-to-back training run on Monday, a 20 minute run on Thursday and a slightly longer and potentially challenging (for me!) 30 minute run on Sunday. So how did I find the fourth week of half marathon training?

Monday – 10 mins taken very easy

Last week I stated that nothing beats starting the week with a rest day. Unfortunately, week 4 of my half marathon training plan had me completing my first back-to-back training run at a “very easy pace”. What could possibly go wrong?  Although I found the 10 minute run easy, when I checked my Garmin I discovered that I’d been running at anything but a “very easy” pace. I really do need to learn how to slow down and how to pace myself. I seem to remember having the same issues with pacing last year.

The rest of Monday was so mundane and uneventful I won’t bore you with the details.

Tuesday – Rest

If I ignore the mile or so walk to and from the Post Office to post my latest batch of FleaBay sales, I followed the training plan and did very little exercise. Once I’d finished reviewing yet another thrilling unpublished academic manuscript, I watched England beat South Africa in the first semi-final of the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

Wednesday – Rest

Although I do love running, my right heel was still feeling quite sore first thing in the morning so I was pleased the training plan said “Rest”. Following on from the success of last week, I decided to work my way through a selection of plantar fasciitis rehab exercises and calf stretches. I also attempted some of the beginner exercises in the Pilates for Runners  book I’m currently reviewing.

Thursday – 20 mins steady

After spending the morning completing yet another job application, by the time it got to midday, I needed a break from my computer. Fortunately, Thursday was a run rather than a rest day. My training plan said “20 minutes steady” so I set out with the aim of running at a slightly faster pace. Although I found running along the uneven pavements of Four Oaks Estate challenging, I gave myself a good talking-to, and managed to avoid walking when I was meant to be running.

I asked my friend to take some photographs of me after my run. I wanted to see exactly how I looked after drinking and eating far too much since the start of the year.Not the best photos...Although I’ve already lost a couple of kilograms since I started half marathon training, I’ve still got a long, long way to go. I don’t think I’ll be wearing that unflattering Lululemon top again…

Friday – Rest

Another rather mundane but incredibly restful rest day. I attempted some of the easier exercises in the Pilates for Runners book and was reminded that I’m not very flexible.

Saturday – Rest

Another rainy rest day, slightly frustrating for a runner who loves running when it’s raining. Unfortunately, although the day started well, it ended badly when I discovered that I’d missed yet another family party. You can choose your friends…. At least my dodgy right heel felt relatively pain-free, I won’t mention my left foot. I went to sleep feeling reasonably confident about running for 30 minutes the following morning.

Sunday – 30 mins jog

For some reason I woke up well before my 06:00 alarm and couldn’t get back to sleep. After lying in bed for what felt like hours, I decided to get up and get my 30 minute run done. I got dressed, worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches, went to the loo, knocked back a glass of water, switched on my Garmin and headed out on my run.

For once I was sensible and set out at a very, very steady pace. About 10 minutes into my run, I spotted a very soggy looking £10 lying on the pavement. I’m not ashamed to admit that I instantly stopped jogging so that I could grab the £10 note. The remainder of the 30 minutes was uneventful and actually felt relatively easy. I just wish that the ache in my left foot would go away.

I returned from my run, worked my way through some post-run stretches, drank a couple of glasses of orange nuun and soaked my feet in a bowl of cold water. I had a quick shower and returned to bed for a couple of hours. I then spent most of the day watching England win the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

So that’s week four of my half marathon training plan completed. Once again I was reminded that I could never complete a running streak as my fragile feet don’t like back-to-back training runs. Next week’s training schedule contains two 20 minute runs and a slightly longer 35 minute run on Sunday. I’ve also pencilled in a couple of Pilates and foam rolling sessions.

Training totals

  • Runs: 12
  • Time: 3 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 18.09 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 5/10

Do you do yoga or Pilates? Although I’ve made several half-hearted attempts to work my way through some of the less challenging Jasyoga videos, I’ve never actually been to a ‘proper’ yoga class.

Would you stop during a run to pick up money? Finding a £10 note was definitely the highlight of my run yesterday.

Great Birmingham Run training week 3

I hope that everyone had a really good weekend. Thanks for all of the comments on last week’s training update. Hopefully this week’s update will be slightly more positive.Collage 6Week 3 saw me progress from the ‘getting started’ to the first week of the ‘building’ phase of my half marathon training plan. To be honest, I feel so unfit at the moment, I was concerned that moving onto the next phase of training was a little ambitious. Fortunately, I remembered that the training sessions in week 3 were identical to those I’d successfully completed the previous week. Panic over!

Monday – Rest

Nothing beats starting the week with a rest day. My right heel was quite sore in the morning, so I worked my way through the plantar fasciitis rehab exercises I downloaded from Kinetic Revolution and the calf stretches recommended on the Rehab4Runners site. Fortunately, my heel felt much better afterwards.

Following a rather unproductive morning, I spent the remainder of the day writing cover letters and CVs for a couple of hydrologist jobs. Fingers crossed my applications get me at least one interview invite.

Tuesday – 15 mins jog

As I didn’t feel 100 per cent when I woke up at 05:30, I decided to delay my run until later in the day. I spent most of the morning reviewing a couple of not very interesting unpublished manuscripts. By midday I was more than ready for a break from reading about environmental flows. I got changed into some running gear, worked my way through my PF stretches and headed out on what I hoped would be a 15 minute jog.

I had originally planned to run for approximately eight minutes, turn around, and run back home. My plan failed, and I found myself running along a main road. What was an enjoyable run, could have been ruined by a man in a van calling me a “fat c**t”. Luckily for me, the man was driving a fully branded company van; this enabled me to report the driver when I got home. My email might not make any difference, but I felt better after hitting send!

Wednesday – Rest

Another rest day and another dull but productive day of job hunting, manuscript reviewing, blog admin, emails, decluttering, foam rolling and household chores.

Thursday – 10 mins jog

I dragged myself out of bed, got changed into some running gear and spent 30 minutes working through a random selection of PF exercises and stretches. For once I set out at a sensible pace and found the mile I covered in 10 minutes quite enjoyable. As an added bonus the hecklers stayed away. After spending the rest of the morning drafting out some ideas for an academic paper, I boarded the 12:50 train to London Euston. The second I sat down, I discovered that the line into London was closed due to yet another signalling failure. Awesome! After power walking the short distance to Birmingham Moor Street, I reached London an hour later than originally planned.Collage 7I hobbled the short distance from Marylebone station to my friends flat, let myself in, dumped my rucksack and headed to The Gunmakers to meet up with my PhD supervisor. For some reason, I thought that drinking two bottles of Crabbie’s and a pint of beer after I’d missed lunch was a good idea. It wasn’t. By the time Kate arrived I was feeling slightly – a massive understatement – tipsy, so we headed straight to Hardy’s. I decided to play it safe and opted for fish and chips followed by Gooseberry Fool. Quite appropriate for this fool!

Friday – Rest

It’s a good job Friday was a rest day as I woke up feeling dehydrated with a fuzzy head. The emergency post-booze McDonald’s breakfast I consumed didn’t help and the journey home was challenging. Once I’d recovered from my hangover, I spent thirty minutes working through some of the slightly less challenging Jasyoga reset videos. After a much needed powernap, I spent the evening watching the European U23 athletics. Definitely a restful rest day!

Saturday – Rest

According to Great Run, Saturday marked three months until the Great Birmingham Run! My heel celebrated the milestone by feeling really niggly. Every time I stood up after sitting down for any period of time, my heel reminded me that it wasn’t 100 per cent fixed. Not ideal, but the niggle meant that I rested as much as I could and had a boring but productive day. I tackled the pile of washing that had built up during the week, ordered a couple of birthday presents for my soon to be seven year old niece and watched England beat the West Indies in the Women’s Cricket World Cup. Fortunately, my heel started to feel a lot better towards the end of the day, and I felt confident I’ll be able to run the following morning.

Sunday – 20 mins jog

Once again, I set my alarm for 05:30 and found myself dressed – obviously! – and out the door before 06:15. Unfortunately, my right heel felt quite sore for the first five minutes or so, and I was aware that I was running like a wonky donkey. Although my dodgy heel did eventually warm up, my legs felt like lead and the 20 minute run was not much fun. I got home, made myself drink a pint of water and orange nuun and then treated my feet to a 30 minute ice bath. Not the most positive end to the third week of half marathon training.

So that’s the third week of my half marathon training plan more or less successfully completed, only another 13 weeks and training updates to go. I was reminded that unfortunately, not everyone is supportive of runners and that I’m still useless at running in humid conditions. I’ve had a peek at next week’s training schedule; I’ll be completing my first back-to-back session tomorrow morning. The duration of my midweek run increases from 15 to 20 minutes and my longer run on Sunday from 20 to 30 minutes. After struggling to run for 20 minutes on Sunday because of my heel, I genuinely have no idea if I’ll be able to run continuously for 30 minutes next week.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 2 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 12.49 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 5/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

When do you prefer to run? I think I’m starting to rediscover my love of running first thing in the morning. It’s cooler, there’s very little traffic and I have the pavements to myself.

A rather random question, but what is your favourite nuun flavour? Much as I like orange nuun, I’d quite like to try a few more flavours.

Great Birmingham Run training week 2

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I’m quite nosey and can’t wait to read about what you all got up to, so please get blogging. After I successfully navigated my way through the first week of my beginners’ half marathon training plan, I was hoping for a niggle-free second week of training.Collage 4I’m so injury-prone, I’ve got quite obsessive over warming-up before and cooling-down after each training run. I’ve actually spent more time warming-up and attempting to cool-down – challenging in the warmer weather – than I have actually running.

The second week of my training plan is described as ‘getting started 2’and comprised of a 10 minute jog on Tuesday, a 15 minute jog on Thursday and a slightly longer 15-20 minute jog on Sunday. Here are my thoughts on the second week of half marathon training.

Monday – Rest

After spending over two hours searching for and failing to find any hydrologist jobs, I spent most of Monday feeling rather depressed. I’ll be totally honest with you all; the interview last week went so well I thought I’d be offered the job. The person interviewing me discussed my potential salary, holiday entitlement and other perks, so receiving another ‘thanks but no thanks’ phone call came as quite a shock and knocked my confidence.

Following a not very productive morning, I spent the afternoon packaging up my latest pile of FleaBay sales and setting myself a timetable and some targets for the week. I also made myself head out for a short walk around Four Oaks.

Tuesday – 10 mins jog

Although my daily job search was fruitless, Tuesday morning was reasonably productive. I caused a queue at the local Post Office and remembered to drop my pill prescription off at Boots. I was so busy replying to blog related emails, I completely lost track of the time and didn’t get ready for my run until 13:00. I worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches, knocked back some water and stepped outside.

When did it get so hot!?

I’m so unfit at the moment I found jogging for 10 minutes quite challenging. I managed to cover exactly a mile in 10 minutes, probably slightly too speedy for a ‘jog’ but a good start to the second week of training. I got home, worked my way through some more stretches, iced my foot and then proceeded to do a great impression of ‘Barry the Beetroot’ for well over an hour. Awesome!

Wednesday – Rest

With the exception of a short walk to my local Sainsbury’s, I actually followed the training plan and did no exercise. I spent the majority of the day watching England beat South Africa in the Women’s Cricket World Cup. In the evening, I found myself reading other blogs and feeling slightly jealous. I can’t wait to find a job, spending all day on my own definitely isn’t doing my mental health any favours.

Thursday – 15 mins jog

After nearly melting on Tuesday, I decided it would be sensible to run first thing in the morning before it got too hot. My alarm went off at 05:30, I reached out, switched it off and immediately went back to sleep. An early morning run fail! After spending most of the day struggling to concentrate due the heat – my office is tiny and felt like a sauna – I finally headed out for a 15 minute run in the evening. It took me approximately 30 seconds to realise that it was still boiling hot and humid, never a winning combination for an unfit runner. Looking back, I’ve no idea how I managed to run for 15 minutes without stopping but I did. I spent the rest of the evening trying to cool down.

Friday – Rest

When I got out of bed, I was over the moon to discover that my fragile right foot was pain-free less than 12 hours after I’d completed a 15 minute run. I wasn’t quite as thrilled when I discovered the Great Birmingham Run was only 100 days away. I found running for 20 minutes so challenging, I seriously questioned whether I’d be able to run a half marathon in 100 days time. The rest of Friday was uneventful but productive. While most people probably made the most of the sunshine and headed out for a few beers, I spent the evening watching Wimbledon.

Saturday – Rest

While most sensible runners were at parkrun, I was tackling my mountain of ironing. Fortunately, my Saturday did improve. As part of ‘operation move’ I spent the morning sorting through some more of the junk in the loft. I was quite shocked to discover two Garmin Forerunner GPS watches, three Nike running watches and a couple of iPods. I had no idea that I’d wasted so much money on running accessories in the past. Definitely a case of all the kit still shit!Collage 5In the afternoon, I headed across Birmingham to the University to collect a couple of books. While I was at the university I managed to track down my first three Big Sleuth bears, only another 97 bears to find. In the evening I met up with my friend Kate for a couple of beers. After last week’s drunken race entry shenanigans I made sure that stopped drinking after two pints.

Sunday – 15-20 mins jog

After struggling in the heat and humidity on Thursday, I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to be warmed-up and ready to run by 06:00. For some reason I found the 20 minute run far more challenging this time, so much for progress and getting fitter. Rather worryingly, even after spending 30 minutes working through my PF stretches, my right heel felt quite niggly for the first five minutes of my run. Walking three miles in flat shoes the previous evening had clearly made my PF flare up a little.

I returned from my run, knocked back a pint of water and soaked my feet in a bowl of cold water. I had a shower and returned to bed for a couple of hours. I then spent the majority of the day watching England finally beat Australia in a Women’s Cricket World Cup match, and listing more bits and pieces on FleaBay.

So that’s the second week of half marathon training more or less successfully completed, only another 14 weeks to go. Apologies for the rather gloomy post, hopefully I’ll feel more positive next week. I’ve looked at the training schedule for next week – the start of the ‘building’ phase – and the training runs appear to be exactly the same. I’ve got everything crossed that the niggle in my left foot doesn’t turn out to be another stress fracture.

Training totals

  • Runs: 6
  • Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Distance: 8.13 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Do you think it’s more important to warm-up before or to cool-down after a run? I’ve heard so many conflicting opinions over the years, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Would you get involved in The Big Sleuth bear hunt if you lived in Birmingham? My friend Kate was horrified when I showed her my bear photos!

Great Birmingham Run training week 1

After hopefully overcoming a stubborn bout of Plantar Fasciitis (PF) in my right heel, I’ve decided to risk running more regularly, with the aim of completing the Great Birmingham Run in October. Last Monday saw the start of the 16-week half marathon training plan I’ve selected. As my running has been severely limited this year, I decided to opt for the beginners’ half marathon training plan I followed last year.

Collage 1

I’ll start with some honesty and with some facts. Last year I weighed 76.6 kg when I started half marathon training, had built up a decent running base and felt reasonably fit. This year I weigh 81.7 kg, have let my trainers gather dust and feel like a sack of potatoes. Let’s face it; the extra weight isn’t going to help my dodgy heel. I haven’t been taking care of my health and I’ve used my heel injury as an excuse to eat rubbish. Not the ideal starting point.

Week one of the training plan is described as ‘getting started’ or in my case ‘seeing if my heel can cope with a 20 minute run’. Without sounding like a Negative Nora, I had quite a few doubts. Enough waffle, here are my thoughts on the first week of half marathon training.

Monday – 10 mins easy jog

The training plan started with a nice and easy “10 mins easy jog”, I dragged myself out of bed, squeezed myself into some running gear, and started to work my way through my PF exercises and stretches. I’ve accepted that most of the initial training runs will take less time than my pre- and post-run exercises and stretches. Once I was happy with my heel, I went to the loo, pulled on my trainers and headed out the door. I managed to run 0.97 miles in 10 minutes, perhaps a little speedy for an “easy jog” but a positive start.

Collage 2

Mum picked me up at 10:00 and we drove the short distance to Chase Farm Shop. Whereas in the past I would have chosen the Traditional Farmers breakfast, on Monday I chose the slightly less calorific Lighter Breakfast. I still felt full four hours later so decided to skip lunch. The rest of Monday was spent preparing for my interview, completing a feature for runABC Midlands, and building up the courage to take the sample of blood I needed to provide for the Thriva team.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday wasn’t very exciting. I spent the morning reading through my PhD thesis in preparation for my interview. The highlight of Tuesday afternoon was receiving my Thriva results; my Lipid Profile and Liver Function checks came back fine. Although I’ll go into more detail in a separate review post, I was relieved my dubious eating habits hadn’t given me high cholesterol.

Wednesday – 10 mins easy jog

As I didn’t want to risk inadvertently injuring myself on the morning of my interview, I decided to complete the “10 mins easy jog” scheduled for Thursday a day earlier. After spending a couple of hours working on some more last minute interview preparation, I worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches. Running is a strange old sport. Monday’s “easy jog” felt quite difficult as I set out far too fast (for me!) and paid the price. This time I set out at a more realistic pace, and found the 0.96 miles I covered in 10 minutes far more enjoyable. I spent the remainder of Wednesday reading through the job description and my application form and trying to work out potential interview questions. After checking the trains, I also spent far too long worrying about having to catch four different trains to get to my interview.

Thursday – Rest

I didn’t get a great night’s sleep because I was so worried about the journey to my interview and the actual interview itself. I initially woke up at 06:00, realised I didn’t need to get up for another hour, went back to sleep and then woke up at 07:00 feeling like a zombie. My journey from Four Oaks to Chelmsford involved travelling on four different trains and some of my connections were tight. Fortunately, I enjoyed four relatively stress and delay-free train journeys, and I arrived at my interview 20 minutes early. The interview itself went very well. I answered all of the questions and completed all of the practical tests. The 1.5 hours flew by and I left the interview feeling positive.

Collage 3

The journey back to London was uneventful. The tube journey to Baker Street was a nightmare. I’ve never travelled on such a busy tube train and I started to feel quite panicky. I escaped at Baker Street, and was met by hundreds of people heading to the Adele concert. Great timing Emma! I walked the short distance to my friends flat, let myself in, dumped my bags, had a quick shower, got changed and then met up with my PhD supervisor to chat about my interview. My supervisor abandoned me after a couple of pints so I sat drinking alone waiting for my friend Kate. Seriously, how late do some people work in London!? By the time Kate arrived we were both starving so we headed straight to Hardy’s where I opted for fish and chips and a slightly unusual but unhealthy meringue-based dessert.

Friday – Rest

Friday was uneventful. I travelled back from London and managed to avoid the chaos on the local trains. I got home and started to work my way through the mountain of washing. I was just about to head out to grab some lunch when my phone went; it was the person who interviewed me. Unfortunately, although I was a “very strong candidate” I didn’t get the job because I didn’t have enough modelling experience. Disappointing but predictable! I tried not to think about the £100 I’d spent getting to and from the interview. My mother managed to make me feel a million times worse by telling me that she felt sorry for me. Thanks mother!

Saturday – Jog/walk 20 mins

After switching around my training runs earlier in the week, I decided to attempt my ‘longer run’ a day early. After working my way through my PF exercises and stretches, I headed out first thing in the morning with the aim of running for 20 minutes without stopping. Although – I’m so unfit at the moment – I found running for 20 minutes quite difficult. I managed to avoid walking and found the 1.89 miles challenging but enjoyable. I got home, spent ages icing my right foot and heel, had a quick shower and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. For some reason I felt shattered. In the evening I headed out for a short walk, half-way through my walk I bumped into some old school friends. Three hours, four pints, one race entry later – I was determined to get a place in the Market Drayton 10k – I made it to bed. Unplanned nights are always great; I needed a good laugh after my most recent job rejection.

Sunday – Rest

Sunday was a much needed day of rest. I woke up feeling dehydrated and had a slightly fuzzy head. I also had a very sore left foot, I have a horrible feeling that I’m heading towards another stress fracture. I spent the morning and early afternoon attached to the sofa watching England beat Sri Lanka in the Women’s Cricket World Cup, and the evening catching up on some well overdue household chores. Not the most productive Sunday!

So that’s the first week of my half marathon training plan successfully completed. Apologies for the lengthy post, I can guarantee next week’s will be a lot shorter. I’ve looked at the training schedule for next week and it looks pretty similar. Fingers crossed the pain in my left foot isn’t anything serious. I’ve started to enjoy running again and I don’t want another injury!

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Distance: 3.82 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Have you ever entered a race when you are drunk? I’m just relieved I entered a 10k and not something completely unachievable like an Ironman!

Have you ever sold your unwanted clothes/running gear on eBay? I think I’m getting slightly addicted to decluttering.