Rants and raves #18

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest selection of rants and raves after spending the day feeling slightly peaky. I’m still experiencing holiday #FOMO. Spending over an hour looking at my friends Greenland photos made me realise just how much I *need* a holiday. Unfortunately, no job means no luxuries and no holiday funds. As always all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other (far, far superior) and less opinionated running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday. I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable week. I’ve you’ve been away then lucky you. If like me you haven’t, I feel your pain. At least it’s not raining and it’s very nearly the weekend!

Rave: The Big Sleuth

I’m aware that I’ve already raved about The Big Sleuth so suspect that I’m cheating a little, sorry. Thanks to train delays, I had an hour to waste in the centre of Birmingham. As I didn’t feel in the mood for mooching around Grand Central, I decided to see how many Big Sleuth bears I could track down.

I walked the short distance from New Street station to Cathedral Square – I think I had to dodge six chuggers, I could very easily dedicate an entire rant to charity muggers – and discovered just how popular The Big Sleuth is. Hundreds of children and *ahem* adults were admiring the bears. It was amazing to see so many children outside having fun. I actually had to queue to get photos of some of the more popular bears.  Big SleuthUnfortunately, not everyone has embraced The Big Sleuth. One bear in Solihull was so badly damaged it has been permanently removed from the trail. Another bear in Boldmere has been vandalised a couple of times. I just don’t understand some people.

Rant: The weather

Whatever happened to the sunshine and warm weather? I’ve just looked out the window and it’s raining again. It was so cold when I headed out on my run this morning I could see my breath.WeatherI’ve had enough of the autumnal weather and would appreciate it if the sun could make an occasional appearance in Sutton Coldfield. I’ve also had more than enough of the rain. So much for the drought I needed for my research.

Rave: My right heel

I don’t want to curse myself, but I think my right heel is finally starting to feel a lot better itself *touch wood*. It’s still a little bit niggly first thing in the morning, but the pain is now 2/10 rather than the 8/10 it was back in February. I think the combination of wearing supportive shoes when I’m not running and the strengthening exercises I’ve been doing have made a big difference. My right foot feels far more stable when I’m running. Hopefully my right heel will continue to behave itself.

Rant: My left foot

Rather ironically I’m now more concerned about the pain in the top of my left foot. The pain is in exactly the same location as my metatarsal stress fracture a few years ago. The fact that I can still run makes me hopeful that my pavement pounding hasn’t somehow caused a second metatarsal stress fracture. I’m icing the top of my left foot after every run and looking out for any swelling or bruising. I don’t think there’s much else I can do at the moment. However, if the pain suddenly increases I’ll be heading straight to the minor injuries unit.

Rave: The running community

I know that I’ve complimented the online running community before, but I love how supportive the vast majority of runners are. Last Sunday I completed a 55 minute run. More experienced runners find running for such a short amount of time relatively easy, however, after not running for several months, I found running for almost an hour quite challenging. As you can probably imagine, I was left feeling rather deflated when my friend didn’t want to listen to me waffle on about my most recent running achievement. As a non-runner he just wasn’t interested.

Maria commented on my training run on Strava and left me feeling a lot more positive about my run. I’m now making sure I remember to give people ‘Kudos’ on their training runs and rides on Strava. A bit of virtual kindness takes a second and goes a long way.

Rant: Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese

I’m quite lazy, don’t actually enjoy cooking ‘for one’ and will occasionally buy ready meals to save time and mess. Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese was one of my favourite pre-run ready meals as I knew one serving was enough to fuel my long runs. As an added bonus my somewhat temperamental stomach seemed to tolerate Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese, always a good thing as a runner.

Last Saturday I treated (?) myself to a of Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese meal for one *sobs*in the evening. I noticed that the packaging had been updated and that the Spaghetti Bolognese was rather bland and tasted different. It definitely didn’t taste ‘off’ just different. The following morning I headed out on a 55 minute run. I spent the majority of the run trying to burp discreetly while ignoring the taste of Spaghetti Bolognese. Never again!

Rave: Hero the Hedgehog

Like many other sports fans, I thought that Hero the Hedgehog – the official mascot for the recent World Athletics Championships – was fantastic. As a runner, I loved Hero’s motivational signs.Hero the HedgehogIn my first job, I had the misfortune of having to dress up as Charlie Chalk and Brewster the Bear. I struggled to walk around a restaurant so have a huge amount of respect for whoever was wearing the Hero costume. I’d love to know the identity of the person underneath the costume.

Rant: Manspreading on public transport

I spend far too much time travelling on public transport and quite frankly, I’m getting fed up with men pretending to be cellists. Why do some men feel the need to sit with their legs wide open? Why do some men feel it’s acceptable to invade my personal space? And don’t even get me started on people who put their dirty feet on seats. There’s no need.

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

Do you have to dodge people fundraising for charities in your nearest town/city? The charity muggers got such a bad reputation in Birmingham; there was talk of banning them.

Do you have to avoid eating certain types of food before you run? I’m gradually running out of meals I can eat the evening before I run.

Great Birmingham Run training week 7

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. When I look back at how unfit I was seven weeks ago, I’ve got no idea how I managed to run for 55 minutes yesterday morning. I guess I need to learn to trust the training plan.Collage 15Week 7 saw me complete the first ‘peak training week’ of my beginners’ half marathon training plan. It also saw me locate and be brave enough to wear my heart rate monitor, learn how to pace myself a little better and run four times a week for the first time this year. My training during week seven comprised of a slightly harder ‘back-to-back’ 20 minute run on Monday, a 30 minute run on Wednesday, a 10 minute run on Friday and a slightly longer 50 to 55 minute run on Sunday. As always, I set out on the longer run with the aim of running for the maximum recommended time. So how did I find the seventh week of half marathon training?

Monday – 20 mins steady

Week 7 of my training plan started with a slightly more challenging back-to-back 20 minute run instead of the usual Monday rest day. As I wanted to avoid running on pavements the day after a 45 minute run, I decided to delay my training run until lunchtime so that I could hopefully head across to the Four Oaks Estate. I spent the morning searching for jobs and completing a slightly long-winded job application and then got ready for my run.Collage 16Although I started my run at a sensible pace and remembered to slow down on the uphill sections, the top of my left foot felt quite niggly throughout the 20 minute run. It’s quite hard to explain how my left foot feels when I run. It isn’t sore but I’m aware that something isn’t quite right. At time it almost feels numb. Hopefully it just feels a little strange because of the previous stress fracture. After my 20 minute run, I asked my friend to video me running so that I could check out my running style. I discovered that I run like a wonky donkey.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday was a productive but perhaps excessively restful rest day. The weather was rubbish – what happened to summer? – and I didn’t leave the house. Very lazy! The highlight of my day was getting a couple of lengthy job applications completed and submitted. Fingers crossed I hear back from some of the companies I’ve applied to recently. I can’t get over how many don’t even bother to respond with a ‘thanks but no thanks’ type of email.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 30 minute run on Wednesday, however, when I woke up at 05:30 I felt so nauseous I swapped my 30 minute run for a rest day. Although I attempted to make some progress with my latest academic masterpiece, the noise from the builders working opposite, meant that it was virtually impossible to work. After a not very productive morning, I headed across Birmingham to the university library in an attempt to get some peace and quiet. In the end, I wrote 500 or so words and completed the first draft of my paper.

Thursday – 30 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, although I still didn’t feel great, I felt well enough to attempt a run. After spending a few minutes debating the pros and cons of running, I decided to get up and run. I promised myself that I’d stop running if I started to feel nauseous. I got dressed, worked through a selection of my PF exercises and stretches, had a successful loo visit and turned on my Garmin. I then headed outside and spent what felt like ages standing around looking suspicious waiting for my Garmin to pick up some signal. I hate it when my Garmin decides it doesn’t want to work. As I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent, I was sensible and set out at a steady pace. I found the 30 minute run really easy and got back home feeling I should have pushed myself more.

I can’t actually recall what I spent the rest of the day doing. It can’t have been that thrilling or blog worthy. I spent the evening watching the athletics with an ice pack balanced on my left foot. Exciting stuff…

Friday – 10 mins easy jog

The sun very kindly woke me at 05:30 on Friday morning. Rather than heading out on a run, I spent a couple of hours completing a job application form I’d left until the last minute. I really do need to plan out my days a little better. I also need to learn to pace myself a little better on shorter training runs. I set out far too quickly and struggled to run for 10 minutes. At least I didn’t walk this time.

Once again, I spent my Friday evening watching the athletics. The women’s steeplechase was definitely full of drama. How on earth can a professional athlete almost forget to jump the water jump? This is going to sound like a terrible thing to say, but I loved seeing the American duo beat the Kenyans. I’d love to have a go at the steeplechase. However, knowing me I’d fall over a barrier and break something. Anyway, this article describes the thrills and spills of the women’s steeplechase far more eloquently.

Saturday – Rest

For the first time in about six months I experienced Saturday morning parkrun envy. Hopefully I’ll actually make it to my local parkrun next week. I spent the morning doing several loads of washing, the vacuuming and catching up on some of my favourite blogs. I also read an interesting article on clean eating: ‘Why we fell for clean eating’.

Like the majority of the people I follow on social media, I spent my Saturday evening watching the athletics. I was gutted that Mo Farah ‘only’ got a silver medal in the 5000m and that Usain Bolt DNF his last race. However, watching the women’s sprint relay team get silver and the men’s sprint relay team get an unexpected gold, meant that I went to bed feeling positive. Always a good thing before a long (for me) Sunday morning run.

Sunday – 50-55 mins continuous run

My alarm woke me at the incredibly antisocial time of 05:30, and thirty minutes later I was ready to tackle the most challenging training session in my half marathon training plan so far, a 50 to 55 minute continuous run. Although I set out with the intention of running for 55 minutes, after spending so much of the year injured, running for 50 minutes would have been a massive success.

Once I got the not so enjoyable first 10 minutes of the run out of the way, I settled into a sensible pace that I felt I could maintain for another 45 minutes. Once I settled into my stride, I found running relatively easy and found myself increasing my pace slightly after 30 minutes. Although the run was generally very enjoyable, could someone please remind me not to eat Spaghetti Bolognese on a Saturday evening? Thanks!Collage 17So that’s the seventh week of my half marathon successfully completed. I can’t believe I’m rapidly approaching the halfway stage of my training plan. Once again, I was reminded that I need to trust the training plan and to have faith in my ability as a runner. I was also reminded that I need to start and maintain my ‘steady’ training runs at a sensible pace. I don’t think that running for long periods with a heart rate in excess of 180 bpm is very healthy and might explain why my so-called steady runs were leaving me exhausted for the rest of the day.

Next week’s training plan contains four not quite as challenging runs and is described as a “taper week”. I’m quite a lazy runner so seeing the word “taper” makes me very happy. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are rest days – I’ll do my best to actually rest as my right heel is a little niggly after pounding the pavements for 55 minutes. I’m meant to complete a 20 minute run on Tuesday, 10 minute runs on Thursday and Saturday and a 5k race or time trial on Sunday. If I can convince my friend to drive me to my local parkrun, I’ll be completing my 5k time trial on Saturday morning.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 7 hours 55 minutes
  • Distance: 44.26 miles

Niggleometer

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

What have been your highlights of the World Athletics Championships? Mine are probably the men’s and women’s marathon.

Do you have any foods you have to avoid the evening before a long run? I don’t think I’ll be eating Spaghetti Bolognese again.

Rants and raves #17

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest random selection of rants and raves after spending the day in the university library trying to concentrate on a slightly overdue academic paper. I managed to write 500 words in six hours so not the most productive writing session. I’m also experiencing exotic holiday #FOMO as my friend has just returned from Greenland. I can’t wait to see all the holiday photos. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other (far superior) and slightly less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! Once again, I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable week. If your week hasn’t been that great, the weekend is approaching.

Rave: Running

Although having running as a rave for the third time in a row is probably cheating, after complaining about being injured and not running for almost six months, I feel I need to balance out my blog a little.RunningSmiling Grimacing at the top of one of my nemesis hills.

At the moment, my dodgy feet are still *touch wood* coping with my half marathon training. As an added bonus, after struggling for five weeks I’m now starting to feel a little bit fitter. Hopefully my fitness levels will continue to improve.

Rant: Having to enter races months in advance

When I started running, it was possible to turn up and enter the majority of races on the day. Perfect for injury-prone runners. Fast forward to 2017 and a lot of races are selling out within hours of entries opening. While this is good news for race organisers, it’s not so great for runners who pick up a lot of injuries. I’ve recently entered two races several months in advance because I was aware entries would sell out almost immediately. Hopefully I’ll be fit enough to run both races.

Rave: Blogging

After several years of intermittent blogging, I think I’m finally starting to see the benefits of sharing my random running-related thoughts online. Writing about running also seems to help me with my academic writing.

Rant: Wheelie bins

Perhaps the most random rant ever, but like the majority of people living in Birmingham, I’m not a huge fan of wheelie bins at the moment. Unfortunately, the refuse collectors (I’m not sure that the correct term is!) in Birmingham have been on strike for six weeks. This means that in addition to wheelie bins for household waste, gardening waste and mixed recyclables, the pavements in some areas are covered in overflowing bin bags, cardboard boxes and rubbish. Residents have been instructed to leave their bins and extra rubbish at the side of the road. Unfortunately, some people have abandoned their bins in the middle of the pavement.

If I can’t squeeze past a bin when I’m running, I doubt someone pushing a pushchair could get past.BinsI actually had a dream about wheelie bins last night. 

Although the situation isn’t quite as bad where I live in Four Oaks as it is in the centre of Birmingham, the bins haven’t been emptied for a month and the smell is getting quite bad. Apparently the strike could continue for another four weeks. As I’m not very good with ‘smells’, I’ll have to dig out my old BA mask.

Rave: runABC Midlands

After I somehow managed to win an Ultimate Direction hydration pack last year, runABC Midlands has been one of my favourite running magazines. A few weeks ago, I received a message via my blog asking me if I’d like to review one of my favourite local races for runABC Midlands. I said yes (of course!) and answered a few questions about the Lichfield 10k. Hopefully my article will be published and will appear in the August-September issue. I can’t wait to see my race review in print.

Rant: Drivers who don’t indicate

Can someone explain to me why so many drivers don’t seem to know how to use their car indicators? I’m not a mind reader and I don’t have a crystal ball. Seriously though, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve needlessly stopped running to give way to cars at junctions. Apologies for the f-word but I love this meme.Did you know

[Source]

Finally, don’t get me started on cyclists riding on pavements. I don’t mind children riding their bikes on the pavement, but adults dressed from head to toe in Team Sky kit should be able to ride their Cannondale bikes on the road. Having to dodge wheelie bins, drivers and speedy cyclists is making my running quite stressful at times.

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

Do you find having to enter some races months in advance irritating?

Should more race organisers offer full refunds or the option to transfer your entry if you can’t run? 

Book Review: Pilates for Runners by Harri Angell

I hope that everyone is having a great week. As I don’t want to complain about my lack of fitness and injury woes again, I’ve got a far more positive post today; a book review.

When Harri contacted me to see if I’d like to review her new book – Pilates for Runners – I agreed pretty much immediately. I knew that I would find reading and reviewing the book incredibly beneficial as it is dedicated to a subject I knew very little about.

Front Cover

I’ll start this book review with a huge spoiler. Pilates for Runners is one of the most informative and useful running books I’ve read. I found the book engaging and easy to follow and read. Let’s just say I got so engrossed in the book during a train journey, I missed my stop and ended up in Lichfield. Not ideal when I live several miles away in Four Oaks. Luckily, the train conductor didn’t issue me with a fine.

Pilates for Runners is written by Harri Angell an experienced Mat Pilates instructor, marathon runner, personal trainer, England Athletics Leader in Running Fitness and member of the Register of Exercise Professionals (follow Harri on twitter @Harriangell). The book is described as containing everything you need to start using Pilates to improve your running – get stronger, more flexible, avoid injury and improve your performance. Pretty much perfect for a weak, inflexible, tall, slouchy, injury-prone runner like me!

The book is broken down into 13 chapters; (1) Why Pilates is good for runners, (2) Joseph Pilates: a brief history, (3) The principles of Pilates, (4) Postural alignment, (5) Breathing, (6) Equipment, (7) Mat Pilates exercises for runners, (8) Post-run stretches, (9) Five 10-15 minute daily routines to improve your running, (10)The healing power of Pilates, (11) Injuries, (12) Pilates for the running mind and (13) Finding a Pilates class and what to look for.

Pilates for Runners

Once again, rather than attempting to review the entire book, I decided to highlight the sections I found particularly interesting and relevant to me. Although the quality of my photographs is quite poor, I decided to include them to illustrate how well laid out the book is. If you want to read the text you’ll have to purchase the book.

Chapter 3: Principles of Pilates

As I had a very limited zero understanding of Pilates before I read the book, I found Chapter 3 particularly interesting. Joseph Pilates – the inventor of the Pilates method – devised specific principles that he believed were necessary to accompany each of his exercises

Chapter 3

Although these principles have been adapted over time, Harri believes that the principles of; Concentration, Breathing, Centring, Alignment, Relaxation, Flow and Endurance are worth acknowledging and applying when performing the exercises in Pilates for Runners. At the moment, I’m definitely struggling with my alignment and flow.

Chapter 7: Mat Pilates exercises for runners

Chapter 7 contains over 100 pages of mat Pilates exercises for runners. Please note that Harri recommends that you should resist the temptation to jump straight into the exercises without reading the preceding Chapters.

Chapter 7

Each exercise comes with easy-to-follow instructions and photographs to provide guidance. In addition, each exercise is graded as beginner, intermediate or advanced and nearly all have options to modify or progress, so that you can opt to work at whichever level suits you. The exercises I’ve attempted have confirmed that I’m not very flexible, that I quite enjoy lying down and that I’m very much a beginner. Hopefully, I’ll be able to progress from the beginner to the slightly more challenging intermediate and advanced exercises.

Chapter 8: Post-run stretches

So far, I’ve found the selection of post-run stretches I’ve incorporated into my running routine really beneficial.

Chapter 8

The stretches in this Chapter should only be performed once the body is warmed up, for example after a run, or at the end of a session of Pilates. As, from time to time, I struggle with tight calf muscles; I’ve incorporated the calf and Achilles stretch into my post-run stretching routine. These stretches are simple but effective and appear to be helping my calf muscles.

Chapter 11: Injuries

I’ve got a confession to make. As an injury-prone runner, this was the first Chapter I read. So much for starting at the beginning. Although Pilates for Runners isn’t a book about running injuries, many runners encounter Pilates for the first time because of a running injury. Harri stresses that although regular Pilates can help runners avoid injury, it can be just as beneficial to runners nursing an injury.

Chapter 11

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I’ve been struggling with Plantar Fasciitis (PF) since the start of the year. I’m clearly not alone as PF is the first injury listed in Chapter 11. I thought I was an ‘expert’ at managing and treating my dodgy heel, however, the section on PF reminded me of potential benefits of incorporating foot mobility and strengthening exercises into my daily exercise routine.

The Verdict

I would highly recommend Pilates for Runners to runners of all ages and standards. I particularly enjoyed reading the motivating testimonials written by runners who incorporate Pilates into their training.  I loved the inclusion of a series of inspirational quotes from the master himself, Joseph Pilates. If you are an injury-prone runner, I suspect that you will find the entire book both eye-opening and informative. I definitely did!

Pilates for Runners is published by Bloomsbury has a RRP of £16.99 and is available from all major book retailers.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a copy of Pilates for Runners for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review 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.