Running goals for 2018: Progress report

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

parkrun 2018 montage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_1028

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh well, sometimes it’s good to fail…

How are you progressing with your running goals for 2018?

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

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Beginner’s guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate with cycling. I can still remember my first ‘proper’ bike; it was a pink Raleigh road bike and I covered the wheels in Kellogg’s bike reflectors.  My brother was horrified. I can also remember my first bike crash; I over-estimated my abilities a little and came to grief on a country lane in Dorset when I was 12.

Looking back, the accident in Dorset wasn’t that serious as I only suffered a couple of grazed knees. The handlebars of my bike came off worse and needed fixing. I returned from Dorset and abandoned my bike in the garden shed. It was very much a case of out of sight, out of mind. My focus shifted to other sports such as running and horse-riding; in my opinion riding a horse was a lot safer than riding a bike.

I didn’t go near a bike again until I travelled to New Zealand with my best friend in 2005. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very enthusiastic when my friend suggested we hired a couple of mountain bikes. Once I’d overcome my slightly irrational fear of failing off, I was thrilled to discover that I hadn’t forgotten how to actually ride a bike.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the photo of me looking terrified, so here’s another photo taken in New Zealand. My friend told me I looked a little reluctant.

New Zealand cycling

Although I enjoyed spending the day mountain biking in New Zealand, I returned to a wet and gloomy England, and immediately started training for a half marathon. I didn’t go near a bike for another three years.

In 2008 I completed the London Marathon with an injury and subsequently spent the second half of the year unable to run. I needed a running replacement, so borrowed my friend’s mountain bike, bought myself a cheap and cheerful bike helmet and started to explore some of the less popular trails in Sutton Park.

Sutton Park

I began to enjoy mountain biking so much, I asked for a mountain bike of my own for Christmas. I’m ashamed to admit that the mountain bike I was given almost 10 years ago remained untouched and unloved until the beginning of the year.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I’m nearly always injured. I should really rename my blog ‘The Frequently Injured Runner’. At the start of the year, as I wanted to mix up my training a little in an attempt to avoid injuries, I decided to give my mountain bike a second chance. As I’m still too afraid to cycle on roads, I decided to reacquaint myself with some of the trails in Sutton Park.

I made quite a few what I would call embarrassing, rookie errors.

What would be my number one top tip for beginners? Get your bike fitted properly, I didn’t realise my saddle was far too low until a more experienced cyclist stopped me in Sutton Park. While on the subject of saddles, spend a bit extra on a comfortable saddle, your bottom will most definitely thank you. Also make sure that your tyre pressure is correct, it makes a huge difference. Pushing my mountain bike up a steep hill was hard, hard work.

Luckily, the awesome people at Halfords have produced a Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking.

Beginners Guide Halfords

I wish that I’d read and digested the contents of this guide before I headed into Sutton Park. The guide starts with a section on ‘How to Pick a Mountain Bike’. Did you know that a smaller rider may find 27.5” wheels more manageable? I didn’t.

The guide then shares some basic mountain biking skills and a mountain biking trail grading guide. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be staying well away from black, double black and orange trails!

The guide then recommends a range of mountain biking trails. Although Sutton Park didn’t make it into the guide, I was pleased to discover that another local park – Cannock Chase – did.

Cannock Chase’s green and blue graded Fairoak and Sherbrook trails provide perfect options for those beginning to bike. Master these and you’ll be tackling its famous Follow the Dog and Monkey trails in no time. As an area of natural beauty the Chase is a perfect place to escape in the heart of the country.”

The Gear List is a little dangerous as it includes links to loads of bits and pieces I don’t really need at this stage in my mountain biking career, but will probably end up buying anyway.

Gear List

The guide then provides an incredibly informative section written by Fiona Outdoors on mountain biking etiquette.

I’m ashamed to confess that I’ve made a couple of blunders since the beginning of the year. Apparently, my approach of riding where I think I’m least likely to fall off is incorrect, I should always ride on the left. Next time I hit the trails – hopefully not literally – I’ll make sure I ride on the left.

The guide concludes with a section on mountain biking slang. I’m already thinking of ways I can introduce the word ‘gnarly’ into my next technical hydrology report. I doubt that anyone would actually notice.

So although I’m still not very confident and tend to spend most of the time worrying about what might go wrong, reading the Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking has definitely given me some really useful hints and tips.

You never know, I might ask my friend to drive me and Boris – I gave my mountain bike the least imaginative name ever – the short distance to Cannock Chase to check out some new trails.

If my friend is really lucky, I might even take him to Halfords so that he can pick out a bike from their impressive range of mountain bikes.

Do you have any tips that may help me increase my confidence on two wheels? At the moment, I’m still quite nervous when I ride in Sutton Park.

Have you ever made any mountain biking or cycling blunders? I genuinely had no idea I was meant to stick to the left hand side of trails.

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords**

Race Report: Aldridge 10k

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. This blog is a day late because I was actually at work yesterday. Shocking behaviour after an incredibly hectic weekend.

Some of you know I set myself the challenge of running completing 10 races this year. On Sunday I completed my fourth race –the Aldridge 10k.

So what did I think of the Aldridge 10k? Would I run it again? Would I recommend the race to other runners?

As always, I checked the weather forecast quite a few times. The forecast for Sunday was 23°c and sunny, typical. However, first thing on Sunday morning the weather was perfect; cool and dry with a refreshing breeze. The cool conditions unfortunately didn’t last. Ellen very kindly collected me at 09:30 and drove us the short distance to Aldridge. We found somewhere to park and walked the short distance to the race HQ, the local cricket club to collect our numbers.

I found race HQ a touch confusing. The signs weren’t very clear and it took us a couple of attempts to work out where we had to go to collect our numbers. Numbers finally collected and attached – there were a lot of safety pins – we decided to find out where the 10k race would start from. We found the 5k muster point, an impressive selection of trophies and the finish line. Virtually everything but the start of the 10k race.

The next challenge was finding somewhere for a pre-race pee. The queues for the portaloos were quite long so we checked out the cricket club’s Clubhouse. Bingo! Real toilets with a small queue. Toilet stop done and dusted, as it was still quite chilly we completed a pre-race warm-up. Ellen met up with some of her running club friends and organised some ‘before’ photos. We then squeezed in a second pre-race pee and then followed a sea of runners towards the mystery start location.

I’ve included one of the official race photos because I can just about make out my black cap in the distance.

Aldridge start

[Photo: Brian Smith]

The sun made an unwelcome appearance just before the race started at 11:00. One minute it was nice and cool, the next minute it was hot and sunny. I regretted wearing black.

At the start Aldridge

The first mile was hot and if I’m being honest rather uninspiring as it took us alone the main Walsall Road until we turned left at a pub and onto the amusingly named Bosty Lane. I’d describe the second mile as undulating and dull.

Youtube 3

[Source: James Cruze]

This section of the course was made more challenging as we had to run on the pavements as the roads hadn’t been closed. I was a little frustrated because I enter road races to run on the road, not on uneven pavements with niggle inducing dropped kerbs.

Mile three was also undulating. I wanted to walk but just about managed to carry on running. The highlights of mile four were the hoses and the sponge and drinks stations.

As I still haven’t quite mastered the art of running and drinking at the same time, I walked through the drinks station. I was a little disappointed to be handed a small plastic cup with hardly any water in it. A bottle would have been welcome on such a warm day! We spotted a camera, waved and continued on our way.

Youtube 1

[Source: Aldridge Now & Then]

Youtube 2

[Source: Aldridge Now & Then]

The penultimate mile was quite tricky because my fragile right knee didn’t appreciate the rather steep hill section. The half a mile down hill away from the centre of Aldridge and the start of the race worried me because I knew it meant the final part of the race would be incredibly challenging.

I’m ashamed to report that I gave into the heat, my dodgy right knee and my lack of mental toughness and walked quite a large section of the final mile. I’m afraid that the inspirational quotes someone had chalked onto the road did very little to inspire this hot and grumpy runner.

Aldridge Mile 5 and 6

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

A few runners had warmed me about the “nightmare hill” between miles five and six. As a result I gave the hill far, far too much respect. Miles one to five had been completed at 09:xx min/mile pace; it took me over 11 minutes to complete mile six. The final part of the race was mentally tough as we had a couple of loops around a field.

I crossed the line in 01:01:45, collected my medal, goody bag and t-shirt -the Wolves colour was an added bonus – and found Ellen who’d finished before me.

Aldridge medal

We spent a bit of time recovering and then dug out our beer tokens and joined the queue for the free post-race half pint of beer. Beer successfully collected, we spent an enjoyable 15 minutes chilling out, discussing the race and drinking our beer. I couldn’t stay too long as I had to get ready for the journey back down to Wallingford.

Although my own race performance was a little disappointing, Ellen ran a seriously impressive time. I’m really enjoying watching her get faster and faster. The race was well organised and incredibly well supported. I received my official time via text the second I crossed the finish line and the first set of event photographs were available to download for free the same day as the race. It’s just a shame the photographer didn’t stay to take photos of everyone finishing…

This race report has turned into an essay so I’ll stop writing and leave you with a selection of Strava stats. I think it’s pretty obvious where I struggled.

If any more photos make an appearance online I’ll add them to this post.

So would I recommend the Aldridge 10k? Possibly, but I’d also recommend runners carry their own water with them if it’s a hot day. Advice I should follow myself.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 9/10 – £13.75 (the entry fee included free downloads of official race photos)
  • Course: 8/10
  • Medal: 6/10
  • Race t-shirt: 9/10
  • Goody Bag: 8/10 (I loved the race number magnet thingys)

Do you ever wonder what happens to all the photos people take of runners during races? Loads of random people were taking photos on Sunday; they never seem to appear online. Strange!

Have you ever managed to dodge all the official race photographers? I’m starting to think that although I’m tall I’m also invisible.

Do you think 11:00 is too late to start a race? I much prefer an earlier start time as it’s cooler and the roads are less congested.

A parkrun, some sun, a fun run and a BBQ

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. I booked Monday off work so I’m enjoying another extra long weekend.

Most of you will know my Friday afternoon routine now. I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks three hours later. I spent what was left of the evening getting all my washing done, catching up on a couple of my favourite TV programmes and eating unhealthy food.

I woke up well before my alarm on Saturday which was a little bit frustrating as I wanted a lie in. I hadn’t originally planned to head to parkrun but when my friend offered to drive me I felt that I couldn’t say no.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy parkrun very much and kind of wish that I’d stayed in bed. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace, struggled in the humid conditions and seriously considered dropping out after the second lap.

Parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I gave myself a serious talking to, completed the final lap and finished in 28:14, a time I would have been over the moon with a year ago.

The short walk back to the car park felt like a marathon and I don’t think I’ve ever ended a 5k run with such a red face. The camera really doesn’t lie; sometimes I wish that it did!

Emma the beetroot

I also don’t think I’ve been so relieved to sit down for a couple of minutes after a run. I felt so nauseous, there was no way I was risking getting straight back into a boiling hot car.

A well placed bench

I’ve no idea why but I felt quite peaky for a few hours after parkrun and had zero appetite, definitely most unlike me and not ideal the day before a challenging 8.5 mile run.

Fortunately, a quick afternoon nap seemed to do the trick and I woke up feeling reasonably ‘normal’ again. As parkrun had left me feeling slightly dehydrated and I had a headache, I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange flavoured Nuun.

The rest of my Saturday was quiet and relaxing, just what I needed. I made sure that I drank loads of water, avoided the local Chinese takeaway and the local weather forecasts. I went to bed at the not so rock and roll time of 22:00.

A combination of bright sunlight, heat and noisy birds woke me far too bright and early on Sunday morning. Not ideal when I desperately wanted a lie in. The fun run didn’t start until the incredibly late time of 11:00 so I had almost too much time to faff around before I set off on the short walk to the local train station.

My running buddy Ellen spotted me walking to the train station and kindly gave me a lift. We met up with Ellen’s friend Ruth and arrived in the centre of Sutton Coldfield with plenty of time for a couple of pre-race toilet visits. We entered the start area at 10:30 and spent the next 45 minutes or so getting hotter and hotter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to watch the sun disappear behind some clouds.

GMFR 2018 start

Nervous at the start

The run started and it was so crowded it took me almost a mile to get into my stride. I don’t enjoy running in hot weather and felt incredibly nauseous so decided to slow down. Somewhere between the first and second mile I noticed that my Garmin had switched itself off, not ideal but I managed to get it working again. To make matters worse my dodgy right calf started to hurt, a lot. We entered Sutton Park, I stopped at a drinks station to grab myself some water and never really got going again.

I told Ellen and Ruth to run on without me and walked for a couple of minutes to assess my calf. Walking didn’t help and I decided to switch my focus from getting a decent time to having a good time.

I power walked up the numerous uphill sections and ran very slowly down the downhill sections. I soaked up the atmosphere as I ran through the centre of Sutton Park near Town Gate and stopped for a quick chat with a teacher I hadn’t seen for several years.

Cardiac Hill

I reached the bottom of Cardiac Hill and spotted Matt in the distance dressed as an Oompa Loompa. I caught up with Matt and we successfully negotiated Cardiac Hill together. We reached the top, grabbed some much needed water and headed back towards the centre of Sutton Coldfield and the finish.

Miles three to six of the run were shockingly slow and I was embarrassed when I looked at the stats on Strava. The final couple of miles were slightly more respectable – probably because they were more runner friendly i.e. down hill – and I had plenty left in the tank to sprint to the finish line.

I crossed the line, collected a medal from an old school friend, grabbed some water and then spent 15 minutes trying to track down Ellen and Ruth. We were eventually reunited at the train station.

GMFR 2018 medal

I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, drinking beer and enjoying my first BBQ for years. The perfect way to take my mind off a somewhat disappointing Great Midlands Fun Run. Next year, I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of the barriers enjoying a pint of beer and supporting the runners.

My next race is the Aldridge 10k on Sunday. I’ve literally got everything crossed that the weather is a little kinder; I’ve had enough of running in the heat.

Do you enjoy running in the sun? If it’s boiling hot on Sunday I suspect the Aldridge 10k will be a DNS as it doesn’t start until 11:00.

Do you have any sun cream recommendations? The P20 I wore smelt terrible and wasn’t very effective.

A challenging run and a weekend in Wallingford

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. The weather in Wallingford was almost too perfect.

Before I recap the weekend I’ll rewind to last Wednesday. After a rather challenging day in the office, I decided to join up with the local running group after work. I discovered that my options were limited to either a one mile or a five mile run. As I didn’t see any point in paying £1 to run a mile, I decided to join up with the five mile group.

We headed straight out on our run without warming-up – not ideal as my Garmin didn’t record anything for the first five minutes – and headed along a slightly overgrown track. We crossed a main road, ran down a path and ended up running through a random field. As a newcomer to Wallingford; I genuinely had no idea where we were.Wednesday runI checked my Garmin and saw that we were running at 9:xx min/mile pace. So much for a relaxing and enjoyable five mile run after work.

We ran along past Benson Lock and across a rather springy bridge, past some seriously posh houses and cottages and onto a main road. I was still completely lost and was starting to struggle to keep up with the rest of the group.

It was a case of keep up or potentially get lost. I kept up.

After a couple of miles we ran past my office and I finally knew where I was. We reached the end of the road, turned left and started to run away from the centre of Wallingford. Miles three to four are a complete blur. The three ladies I’d been following headed further into the distance and I was left on my own.

The pace increased even more as we ran across Wallingford Bridge and back into the centre of the town. We ran through the town, past the fish and chip shop, through Bull Croft Park and back to where we started.

The rest of the group looked like they’d been out for a Sunday stroll; I could hardly breathe and had to sit down for a couple of minutes. It was more than a little embarrassing. I slept well that night.

On Friday afternoon, I headed to the Boat House straight after work with a colleague. I’m not sure drinking three pints of reasonably strong beer was that sensible, but after tweaking my right knee on Wednesday, I’d already decided not to head to Didcot parkrun.The Boat HouseAlthough not heading home straight after work felt a little strange, I really enjoyed chilling out next to the river. I’m such a lightweight, however, I don’t think I’d ever make drinking after work part of my Friday routine. I enjoy parkrun far too much.

Predictably, my head felt quite fuzzy when I woke up on Saturday morning. I made myself a much needed cup of tea and headed back to bed for a snooze. Unfortunately, one of my housemates seemed to be determined to make as much noise as possible so I decided to get up.

I spent what I suspect will be the only Saturday I spend in Wallingford applying for jobs, lying on my bed relaxing, dozing and reading a book. I only left my room a couple of times and did an awesome impression of a hermit. Not the most productive or sociable of days but after a pretty full on week, I needed to spend some time on my own.

I ate a reasonably healthy meal, checked the weather forecast for the millionth time, laid out my running gear, set my alarm for 06:00 and watched some of the Night of the 10000m PB’s online. Next year I’ll make sure I travel down to London as the atmosphere looked amazing.

BBC weather

I was woken up at 06:30 on Sunday morning by what sounded like a couple of dog walkers having a heated argument about an out of control dog. So much for a lie in. I dragged myself out of bed, had a shower and got changed into some running gear. I then popped downstairs to make myself my usual pre-race cup of tea. Well that was the plan. Unfortunately, when I got in the kitchen I discovered that the kettle was missing. Have I mentioned before just how hard I’m finding it living in shared house.

I packed everything I thought I’d need in my running bag and walked the mile or so to the HQ of the Wallingford Thames Run – a local primary school. As I’m going to review the race in another post I won’t go into detail but it was hot, challenging underfoot, friendly, and slow.

Wallingford 10k

I walked back home, had a much needed second shower of the day and walked the short distance to meet up with another colleague for lunch. It was so nice to spend some time in a ‘normal’ house with luxuries such as a kettle and an incredibly well maintained garden.

The rest of my Sunday was spent napping, writing, catching up on emails, and generally chilling out. Although I don’t think I’ll be spending too many weekends in Wallingford, my first weekend was enjoyable. The only thing missing was a BBQ.

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you find running in the warm weather challenging?

Rants and raves #27

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as my extra long weekend is coming to an end. I really don’t want to start the long journey back down to Wallingford later this afternoon. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Skid Row Marathon

Last Wednesday, I headed to the Corn Exchange cinema in Wallingford to watch Skid Row Marathon. I met up with some other members of the Run Wallingford group, treated myself to a bottle of Crabbie’s and settled down to watch the film.Wallingford Corn Exchange

I don’t want to give too much away, but if you get the opportunity please, please go and watch Skid Row Marathon. I was in tears before it even started. The actions of Judge Craig Mitchell definitely left me with a lot to think about. You may even spot another running blogger *waves*

Here’s the link to the official trailer and to the amazing poem that accompanied the film called ‘I Run On’ written by Molly Case.

Rant: My Garmin 235

Earlier this year I treated myself to a Garmin Forerunner 235. My old second-hand Garmin Forerunner 220 was over three years old and I wanted a slightly more ‘blingy’ Garmin.

Garmin 235

At the moment, I’m not very impressed with the Garmin 235. The battery life is useless, it takes over five minutes to pick up satellites, the wrist-based heart rate monitor is not even remotely accurate and the watch itself feels incredibly fragile and flimsy. I suspect that I’ll be treating myself to another running watch sooner rather than later.

At least the charging lead is machine washable…

Rave: Running

I’m really, really enjoying being able to run at the moment. As I don’t want to spend more time on the injury bench, I’m trying to be sensible and have been closely monitoring my niggles. I’ve been avoiding running down steep hills and have been careful not to increase my mileage too quickly.

My right knee still twinges occasionally when I walk to and from work. I don’t understand why as it doesn’t hurt when I’m running… Slightly strange! My left foot where I had a stress fracture a few years also feels a little ‘strange’

Although I’ve had some great runs recently and nothing beats running outside after a rubbish day in the office, not all of my runs in Wallingford have been enjoyable.

Rant: Hecklers

The first few months of running in Wallingford were both heckle and incident free. Unfortunately, last week I was heckled four times during a single five mile run around Wallingford. Most of the heckles were pathetic and rather unimaginative. I mean, shouting “Get those long bloody legs moving faster” from a car window was pretty tame.

The final heckle, however, was totally unacceptable, particularly coming from another female. I was so angry at being called a “fat bitch” I actually stopped running and stood in complete silence in front of the heckler. The heckler clearly didn’t think I’d be brave enough to actually stop running and walked away from me.

And I thought Wallingford was mean to be a posh town…

Rave: My Brooks trainers

I was a little surprised when Strava alerted me to the fact I’d completed over 400 miles in my current pair of Brooks trainers. My current trainers are still incredibly comfortable and I don’t think they need replacing. However, I’m an incredibly injury-prone runner…

The Strava alert left me with a bit of a dilemma; should I risk continuing to run in my current pair of Brooks or should I crack open a replacement pair? I’ve decided to replace my current pair at the end of the month.Running shoes

[Source]

I’ve just got to work out how to remove my SOLE inserts, they appear to be virtually impossible to remove.

Rant: Manspreading

Anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware that I like to have a good train-related rant. My number one pet hate is manspreading. For those people fortunate enough not to have experienced manspreading, here’s a definition:Manspreading

[Source]

I’m already dreading travelling back to Oxford later today. I can more or less guarantee that thanks to the layout of the seats on the Oxford train, I’ll find myself squashed into the corner of my window seat by either a manspreader or a womanspreader (they do most definitely exist).

Rave: Portable alcohol

I’m aware that drinking cans of pre mixed spirits on the train probably makes me look like I’m desperate for a drink. I’ve reached the stage I don’t care because it’s such an effective way of winding down on a Friday afternoon.Train booze

Opening a can also helps me deal with manspreaders, train delays, noisy passengers, smelly passengers and other train related irritations. Not driving home from Wallingford has some benefits.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, thank-you. I’m aware that I said this last time, but I’m hopeful that my next rants and raves post will be slightly more positive.

Did you watch Skid Row Marathon? If you did, what did you think?

Have you ever found a running related purchase incredibly disappointing? I’m seriously considering returning my Garmin Forerunner 235.

What do you do with your old trainers? I’m a bit of a hoarder and tend to keep hold of my old trainers.  

Rants and raves #26

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post with an ice pack balanced on my right knee. A knee niggle I picked up during the Cathedral to Castle Run has prevented me from running for two weeks. As a result, I’m feeling more grumpy than usual. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, far less negative running and fitness blogs are available. I’m hoping that I can run again ASAP!**

Rave: The weather

I’m aware that not everyone appreciated the recent mini heat wave, but after what felt like several weeks of shitty weather, I decided to embrace the sun. After all, we may well have just experienced summer 2018!

Summer in April

I spent Thursday on a training course in Reading. Looking at the sunshine through windows that couldn’t be opened was pretty frustrating. To make matters worse, the Reading office is located minutes from the Thames Lido. Luckily, I managed to escape the office at a sensible time and mysteriously found myself drinking a pint outside a pub an hour later. I managed to spend a bit more time in the sunshine on Friday and during the weekend.

Fingers crossed summer makes another appearance soon.

Rant: My right knee

After an amazing (for me!) run at the Cathedral to Castle Run a couple of weeks ago, a knee niggle has meant I’ve been unable to run. During the steep downhill section of the run I was acutely aware that my right knee was slightly unhappy. I could hardly walk the day after the run. The 1.5 mile walk into the office was a nightmare. Although my knee is gradually getting better, it still niggles from time to time.

Knee ebib[Source]

I’ve treated myself to loads of new running kit recently and want to wear it! I’ve already decided not to risk attempting to run the Treehouse 10k in Cholsey on Sunday. Although this is frustrating, it means that I’ll be able to travel back home for the weekend before my birthday.

Rave: Marathon season

Isn’t technology great? Thanks to the wonders of modern technology my slightly temperamental computer, I was able to watch both of the Commonwealth Games marathons several hours after they took place. I was also able to watch the Boston Marathon while ‘working’ on a conference paper.

After what felt like the longest build-up to the race in history – this isn’t a criticism, I loved all the pre-marathon tweets, photos and Instagram stories – I spent Sunday morning watching the London Marathon. A tiny part of me wished I was taking part, then my knee niggled and reminded me I was injured! #FOMO

At least I managed to play Marathon Bingo…

Marathon bingo[Source]

…I think I managed to tick off most of these during the London Marathon BBC coverage.

Rant: Living in a shared house

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m too old to be living in a house with six other people. There’s nothing wrong with my housemates – well not with most of them – I just need my own space. After three months I’ve reached the stage where I resent paying £110 a week to live in a house with no living room, no working smoke alarms, a front door that is never locked and noisy housemates.

I’ve been checking SpareRoom for better options on a daily basis and have realised that my options are limited. I could spend £100 more a month to live above a funeral parlour in a tiny box next to a building site. No thanks!  Renting outside of Wallingford would be cheaper but I wouldn’t have access to shops. I’d also have to pay £6 a day to travel to and from the office.

There’s also the small matter of me not really enjoying my job much. Some mornings I dread going into the office. I really can’t see myself in my current job in six months time. At some point I’ll update this post.

Rave: Making the top 10

Enough moaning! Last week, I was over the moon to learn that this little corner of the internet had made it into Vuelio’s top 10 UK running blogs for the second year in a row.

I was asked to answer a few questions for a blogger spotlight and took to opportunity to name some of my favourite running blogs.

Blogger Spotlight

I’ve genuinely got no idea how I made it into the top 10 but I’m pretty sure it’s mainly down to you, the people who read my waffle. Thanks!

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I’ve got a bonus rave; Wolverhampton Wanderers. After several slightly disappointing seasons, I was thrilled when Wolves were guaranteed promotion back to the Premier League. Sealing the Championship title on Saturday was incredible. It’s just a shame it didn’t happen at home.Wolves

I think the highlight of the season was when Wolves somehow managed to beat Cardiff at the beginning of the month. I just hope watching Wolves in the Premier League isn’t as stressful as it was last time. Seeing Wolves get beaten on a weekly basis wasn’t much of fun!

Once again, if you’ve made it to the end of my latest rather random selection of rants and raves then thank-you. My next rants and raves post will hopefully be slightly more positive.

Do you enjoy running in hot weather? Much as I love the summer and warmer weather, I struggle to run well when it’s warm.

Do you have any shared house horror stories? If you do, I’d really love to hear them.