Great Birmingham Run training week 16

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to complete the Great Birmingham Run yesterday. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty – I got to see the inside of the medical tent at the finish – but I completed the 13.1 miles.Collage 39The final week of my 16-week beginners’ half marathon training plan – the ‘taper week and race’ – contained three training runs and ended with the Great Birmingham Run. I completed a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday and an easy 15 minute run on Saturday. As my head finally started to feel ‘normal’ again, I made sure that I completed every training run.

I also did my best to avoid people with coughs and colds. Being unemployed definitely does have some advantages.

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

Although I definitely set my alarm for 05:30, I must have somehow managed to turn it off in my sleep as I didn’t wake up until 08:30. Returning to full-time work and working 39 hours a week is going to be such a shock to my system! As I didn’t want to start the final week of my training with a stressful run, I decided to spend some time through the PF stretches and exercises I’d been neglecting.

Once I was confident the school rush had ended I headed out on my run. Unfortunately, Geoffrey the Garmin was still broken so I used him as a stop watch rather than a GPS. My 20 minute run was probably a little faster than an ‘easy jog’ as I’m completely useless at pacing myself. I also tend to run slightly faster when I’m feeling good and nothing hurts. My suspicions were confirmed when I got home and worked out that I’d covered over 2 miles.

The final week of training had got off to a positive start.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday was a productive but incredibly restful rest day. After four consecutive days of pavement pounding, my legs definitely felt like they needed a day off. I spent the morning sorting through several boxes of junk and shredding loads of old paperwork and the afternoon reviewing an unpublished academic manuscript.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I turned it off and went back to sleep. For once I wasn’t being lazy; I was waiting for my second-hand replacement for Geoffrey the Garmin to arrive. After spending the morning waiting for the post to be delivered, my replacement Garmin finally arrived at lunchtime. Unfortunately, the battery was completely flat so I had to put Geoffrey II on charge before I could delete all the previous owners’ speedy data.

I didn’t head out on my run until almost 20:30. The run had the potential to be crap as it was dark, humid and incredibly windy. I was, however, so pleased to have a fully functioning Garmin, I ignored the less than ideal weather conditions (and a slight creepy taxi driver) and enjoyed my evening run.

Thursday – Rest

I got up at a respectable time, got changed into some gym gear and spent half an hour working my way through some of Jasyoga’s new Athletes for Yoga video series featuring Olympian Alysia Montano.  Although I’ve been subscribing to Jasyoga for almost two years, I realised that I’m still not very good at relaxing. Perhaps some people just aren’t very good at chilling out?

By the way, if you’d like to try Jasyoga, I was sent the promo code ‘AUTUMNRESET’ for one month’s free access.

The rest of Thursday was uneventful. I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon and spent a few more hours decluttering my PhD paperwork and text books. I spent the rest of the day writing an abstract for a paper and listing yet more junk on eBay. As I felt that I’d had a reasonably productive day, I treated myself to fish and chips and then spent an enjoyable couple of hours lying on my bed reading.

Friday – Rest

Friday was another reasonably restful but incredibly productive rest day. My paper on environmental flows was published in Progress in Physical Geography. Unfortunately, I can’t actually access the paper as I’m no longer affiliated to a university. After that bit of excitement my mentor phoned. Sometimes it’s just good to talk.

Saturday – Rest

I should have completed a 10-15 minute very easy paced jog, but I decided not to as I didn’t want to risk picking up a random, last minute injury. I spent the majority of the morning working on a couple of slightly overdue product reviews, stressing about the weather, getting my kit ready for the half marathon and answering a few blog-related emails.Collage 40After a reasonably productive morning, I headed across Birmingham to the university to return some slightly overdue library books. The trains to and from the university seemed to be full of people coughing and sneezing. I was paranoid I’d somehow manage to pick up a last minute bug. I got home, dumped my half marathon kit into a pile, made myself eat a huge plate of Spag Bol and went to bed at a reasonably sensible time.

Sunday – Great Birmingham Run

When I’ve had more time to reflect on what happened and what went wrong yesterday, I’ll write a separate race report. To summarise: running at 13:30 just felt ‘wrong’, it was warm and windy, my pacing was all over the place, I wanted to drop out after three miles, I had to run-walk from four miles, there were unexpected hills, my head started to really hurt, my vision went and I felt dizzy, I crossed the finish line and got escorted to the medical tent. Not my finest moment as a runner.

I’m pretty sure that I wrote something very similar 12 months ago, but I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my weekly half marathon training updates. Your support really did help me probably more than you realised, especially when I started to doubt myself last month.

Training totals:

  • Runs: 46
  • Time: 23 hours 50 mins
  • Distance: 129.95 miles

Races/time trials:

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52
  • Half Marathon: 02:43:32 (an epic fail but I’ll be back!)

Final niggleometer:

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
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Great Birmingham Run training week 15

Once again, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. After witnessing a lot of London Marathon ballot angst last week, I’m looking forward to the online running community hopefully returning to normal. I know it’s easy for me to say this, but the London Marathon really isn’t the be-all and end-all.Collage 37The penultimate week of my half marathon training plan and the ‘beginning of taper’ should have started with a double rest day. It didn’t. The plan then recommended that I completed a steady 50 minute run on Wednesday, an easy 35 minute run on Thursday, an easy 15 minute jog on Saturday and a 60 minute run on Sunday.

The reality was unfortunately a little different and I ended up resting on four consecutive days and running on three consecutive days.

Monday – Rest

When I got out of bed on Monday, I discovered that I was experiencing the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for the first time in ages. Slightly worrying given that I’d failed to complete my longer run the previous morning. After spending what felt like ages packaging up yet more eBay sales – why does it always take one buyer ages to pay? – I decided I needed to get out of the house.

I spent ages walking around the top end of Sutton Park, weighing up the various pros and cons of accepting the job I’d been offered. Although I knew the pros outweighed the cons, I was still letting my anxiety rule me. I’ve genuinely got no idea how some people are brave enough to travel to places like Dubai to start a new job.

Tuesday – Rest

After spending ages discussing my main concerns and fears with my mentor, I decided to accept the job offer. I then had to overcome yet another everyday task which for some reason makes me incredibly anxious – phoning someone I don’t know. I took a deep breath, worked out exactly what I wanted to say and made the phone call. If everything goes to plan, I will start my new job on November 20th. I then spent the rest of the day worrying about finding somewhere to live, moving away from my friends and family, fitting into my smarter clothes (actually this is a genuine concern…) and remembering how to be a hydrologist. Just occasionally, I really hate being single and having to deal with all this sort of stuff on my own.

Wednesday – Rest

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 I discovered that my headache had made an unwelcome return. Like last week, when I stood up I felt nauseous and light-headed. I decided that if I felt better, I would attempt to complete my 50 minute run later on in the day. I switched my alarm off and slept for another three hours.Collage 38Fortunately, when I woke up again at 08:30, although I didn’t feel great, I felt well enough to reply to some slightly overdue emails and to complete and send off my reference request form. By the afternoon I started to go a little stir crazy so I headed out for another walk in Sutton Park. The walk left me feeling so knackered, I decided to be sensible and postponed my 50 minute run.

Thursday – Rest

I should have completed an easy-paced 35 minute run but thanks to my head I didn’t. As I’m aware that my blog is getting far too repetitive, I won’t bore you with the gory details! At least I got an early night and actually managed to sleep.

Friday – 50 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:00, although I still didn’t feel great, I felt well enough to attempt the 50 minute run I should have completed earlier in the week. I promised myself that I’d run at a sensible pace and that I’d immediately stop running if I started to feel unwell. I got dressed, worked through some stretches, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of water and then headed outside. Unfortunately, my trusty Garmin decided that it didn’t want to function as a GPS. After spending several minutes waiting for it to pick up a signal, I decided to run using it as a stopwatch.Medal and tshirtAlthough the run wasn’t fast or enjoyable, I managed to run for 50 minutes without stopping. According to GB Mapometer I covered about 4.25 miles; for some reason my legs felt like they had covered double that distance. Later on that afternoon I spotted a photo of this year’s Great Birmingham Run medal and t-shirt. It’s good to see that the medal features the Library of Birmingham.

Saturday – 15 mins easy jog

Although I completed a 15 minute jog, I’m not sure exactly how far I managed to run as my Garmin died five minutes into the run. I think I managed to cover roughly 1.3 miles. The rest of my Saturday was incredibly mundane. I spent a couple of hours catching up on housework and washing, please could someone invent a self-cleaning house and clothes? Once I’d completed my chores, I spent an entertaining hour attempting to work through a selection of Jasyoga 5-minute reset videos. I’m so useless at yoga, I felt less relaxed when I’d finished than when I’d started. I spent the evening watching the Berlin Marathon – yes I’m a few weeks behind – with an ice pack balanced on my knee. Not the most exciting Saturday night.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace

When my alarm kindly woke me at 06:00, I was relieved that I finally felt normal again. I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, went to the loo, drank a couple of glasses of water, left my Garmin searching for satellites on the door step and then spent 30 minutes working through a selection of PF stretches. I headed out the door and discovered that my Garmin was still trying to remember how to function as a GPS. After three failed attempts at GPSing, I think it’s time for me to accept that Geoffrey the Garmin may well have reached the end of his life.

I decided to use my Garmin as a stopwatch again and headed out into the dark. As the training plan recommended I ran at a comfortable pace, I made a concerted effort to maintain a sensible pace. I was reminded just how rubbish I am at pacing myself and how reliant I have become on my Garmin. Running without a GPS was quite tricky and I’m sure my pacing was erratic. I spent an enjoyable 60 minutes pounding the pavements of Four Oaks and felt pretty good when I reached the end of the run. I’m such a geek, as soon as I got home I worked out I’d covered approximately 5.35 miles.

So that’s the fifteenth week of my half marathon training not exactly completed. The excuses and reasons for not running started to get a little repetitive. While I don’t think it was a successful week, I’m over the moon I managed to run for 50 minutes on Friday morning and for an hour yesterday. I just hope that the training runs I missed don’t come back to haunt me during the half marathon.

Next week’s training schedule – the ‘taper and race week’ – contains three training runs and then the Great Birmingham Run on Sunday. I don’t feel ready! I’ve got to complete a 20 minute recovery run later on today. I’ve then got to complete a comfortable (whatever that means) 40 minute run on Wednesday and an easy 10-15 minute run on Saturday. The training plan recommends that I test out my race outfit on Saturday. As I don’t fancy starting my half marathon wearing smelly running gear, I’ll be ignoring this particular recommendation.

I’ve got everything crossed that I avoid picking up a delayed dose of Freshers’ Flu and that my head continues to behave itself.

Training totals

  • Runs: 44
  • Time 22 hours 50 mins
  • Distance: 124.24 miles

 Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

 Niggleometer

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

 

Great Birmingham Run training week 13

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I can’t wait to read everyone’s race recaps so please get writing. The highlight of my weekend was somehow managing to run for 100 minutes yesterday.Collage 32I should have completed four training runs during week 13 of my half marathon training. Unfortunately, a persistent migraine meant I only managed a 20 minute run on Monday and a longer run yesterday. I keep telling myself that the longer runs are the most important runs and that the extra rest has helped my knee. I’m still feeling a little stressed and completely undertrained.

So what went wrong last week?

Monday – 20 mins very easy

After a stressful morning spent packaging eBay sales, preparing and double-checking all the paperwork I needed for my interview, ironing, checking train times and generally getting myself completely worked up, I travelled down to London to meet up with my mentor. Collage 33After my meeting I walked across Marylebone to meet my friend. We had a couple of pints in his local and vowed to sample the Monday Madness menu next time I’m in London. Feeling suitably refreshed and also incredibly hungry, we walked the short distance to a local family owned Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t up to its usual high standard. Hopefully it will be better next time we go there.

Tuesday – Rest

I’ve no idea why but I found the majority of Tuesday incredibly stressful. I had an interview near Wallingford in the afternoon and discovered that I’d allocated myself far too much travel time. Getting to an interview 45 minutes early wasn’t ideal but I guess it’s better than being late. The interview itself went reasonably well, however, I don’t think I’ll get the job as there were a couple of slightly awkward silences and I went into waffle mode. I have a feeling I completely messed up a couple of questions in the technical assessment which is slightly embarrassing. At least I managed to avoid the Aston Villa supporters on the train home.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a ‘brisk’ 60 minute run but I didn’t. When my alarm woke me at 5:30am – I’d given myself an extra 30 minutes in bed – I had a bad headache. It took me five minutes to work out that I’d got a migraine and that running for an hour wouldn’t shift it. The rest of the day was a complete write-off. Each time I tried to sit up I felt dizzy and I couldn’t see properly. Although I felt a bit better by the afternoon, working on my computer was virtually impossible as I couldn’t focus on the screen. I gave up at 9pm and went to bed.

Thursday – Rest

Yet another rest day… My vision was still more than a little dodgy so I stayed away from my computer as much as I could. I also dug out my glasses and actually wore them. Following a reasonably productive morning of interview related admin, my friend picked me up and drove us the short distance to one of my favourite shops; Sutton Runner in Boldmere. Spending time inside a specialist running shop when you are on a buying ban is challenging but I managed. Just. Some of the new Nike running shorts were rather sexy looking and quite hard to resist. My friend tried on several styles and sizes of trainers and ordered a pair to be delivered to the store. It looks like I’ll be repeating the ‘ordeal’ next week.

Friday – Rest

Unfortunately, I still felt quite dizzy when I got up and my eyesight was far from perfect. As I live and run on my own, I was sensible and decided to skip my early morning 45 minute run. I promised myself that I’d run later in the day if I felt better. I didn’t feel better and ended up heading to bed at 9pm. At least my dodgy knee and feet felt completely niggle-free. Every cloud and all that…

Saturday – Rest

When I woke up I discovered that my headache had finally gone. A great start to the weekend. Quite frankly, my Saturday was so dull I don’t think it’s worth sharing the details here. At least I got a lot of sleep before my long run the following morning.

Sunday – Easy 100 min jog

Once again, I found myself debating the pros and cons of running first thing on a Sunday morning. I decided that after missing two training runs the pros definitely outweighed the cons. I’d also hate myself if I didn’t run. I got dressed, went to the loo, drank a couple of glasses of water, did some stretches, went to the loo again and headed outside into the dark. My Garmin took so long to decide to function as a GPS I thought it had finally broken.

As I had no idea if or how my head would react to me pounding the pavements of Four Oaks, I set out at a very steady pace. At times I felt I was power walking rather than running, however, when I tried to increase my pace, my legs said no. After thirty minutes I got what felt like mild pins and needles in my right foot, my new socks must have been slightly too tight or something. Although my attempt at running was pretty pathetic, I ran continuously for 100 minutes and didn’t let any of my nemesis hills beat me. The training sessions I’d missed earlier in the week hadn’t impacted my fitness levels too much, and I felt pretty good at the end of the run.Collage 34So that’s the thirteenth week of my Great Birmingham Run training not exactly completed. Although my dodgy head prevented me from heading out on two training runs, I managed to complete the most important longer run. There are now only three weeks to go so hopefully I’ll avoid migraines, knee niggles and Freshers’ Flu.

Next week’s schedule contains four training runs, is described as the ‘peak week’ and looks very challenging. I’ve got to run for 50 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday and for 10 minutes on Saturday. If I’m still in one piece and haven’t developed another migraine, I’m aiming to run for 120 minutes on Sunday. I managed to run for two hours last year, hopefully I can do it again this year.

Training totals

  • Runs: 40
  • Time 19 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 104.64 miles

 Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

 Niggleometer

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

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

Niggleometer

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

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

Niggleometer

  • 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

Niggleometer

  • 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

 Niggleometer

  • 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.