Rants and raves #25

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

Rave: Running in Wallingford

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

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

Rant: Public transport, again

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

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

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


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

Rave: parkrun  

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

Rant: Random weather

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

Rave: The online running community

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

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

Rant: Office heroes

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


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

Rave: Learning how to say no

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

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

Have you ever fallen out of love with parkrun?

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


Cambridge Half Marathon training week 11

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

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

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

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

Thursday – 50 mins easy

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

Friday – 40 mins cross training

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

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

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

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

Sunday – 6 miles steady

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

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

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

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

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

Training totals

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


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

Rants and raves #24

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after my niggly right knee prevented me from even attempting my final long run before Cambridge. As a result I’m feeling a little bit mardy. I’m also a little grumpy because the weekend is nearly over and I’m about to travel back down to Wallingford. As always all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other far less negative and far, far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Royal Parks Half

After complaining about my six consecutive failures in the ballot for the Royal Parks Half, I’m thrilled to be able to turn a rant into a rave. A couple of Fridays ago I noticed this ‘Congratulations’ email in my inbox.Royal Parks HalfAnd to think I almost didn’t bother to enter the ballot as I thought I was guaranteed to be rejected for the seventh year in a row. I’m over the moon because I’ve now got an autumn target race, will be able to tick off one of my bucket list races and will be able to continue with my fundraising.

Rant: Fundraising

Although I’ve raised £464 out of my £1000 target, fundraising for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust isn’t going quite as well as I’d hoped. My friends, family and a couple of people I’ve never actually met have been really supportive. I’m incredibly grateful for all of their donations.

Unfortunately, my mentor Geoff’s ex-colleagues at the university haven’t been very generous. An email sharing my fundraising page was sent around some of his ex-colleagues a couple of weeks ago. Not one of them have sponsored me. I have to hope that some of them feel a little more generous when I’ve actually completed the half marathon.

I can’t wait to meet some of them at Geoff’s belated retirement.

Rave: Lighter mornings and evenings

When I started working in Wallingford a month ago, it was dark in the morning when I walked into the office and dark when I walked back home. Throughout January, I didn’t actually get to see the centre of Wallingford in the daylight. Last week, it was light enough at 17:30 to walk home without my torch (part of the route has no streetlights) and I actually got see some of the town.

WallingfordI can’t wait for the lighter mornings and evenings.

Running along the River Thames before work will be far more enjoyable than running around slightly scary housing estates. I’m also less likely to injure myself when I can actually see where I’m putting my feet.

Rant: My fragile body

Guess what? I have a feeling that my knee niggle has unfortunately developed into a ‘proper’ injury. It’s my fault for ignoring my tight calf muscles and for running parkrun the day before a 12 mile run. Injury ecard


I’ve cut back my running, have worn my CEP recovery socks, have spent what feels like hours torturing myself on my foam roller and have tried to be sensible. I just have to hope that my knee settles down enough to let me run the Cambridge Half. I also have to hope that running the half doesn’t cause long-term damage to my knee.

Rave: Run Wallingford

Although I’ve only made it to a couple of training sessions with Run Wallingford, the group are incredibly friendly and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of running and training with other people. I’m already looking forward to the lighter evenings and exploring the countryside around Wallingford.

Rant: Public transport

Until I can afford to buy myself a car, I’m going to have to rely on public transport to get me to and from Wallingford.

In order to get back home on a Friday, I catch a bus from Howbery Park to Oxford, a train from Oxford to Birmingham and then a local train from Birmingham to Four Oaks. Last week, the bus from the office was running 15 minutes late and then caught up in traffic in Oxford. The delays meant that I missed my train to Birmingham and had to stand for almost an hour.

During the last five weeks, I’ve encountered manspreading and elbowing, smelly students, an aggressive man who refused to move from my reserved seat, people coughing and spluttering, kids crying, couples arguing, drunks and racists.

I can’t wait to get my own car and my own space!

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

If money was no object, what would be your ultimate ‘bucket list’ race?

Have you had any negative experiences on public transport recently?


Cambridge Half Marathon training week 10

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend, mine was incredibly peaceful but productive. I think the highlight of my weekend was catching up on some much needed sleep.Collage 28Following a restful Monday – I enjoyed having a longer weekend and chilling out, I treated myself to an extra rest day on Tuesday, completed a 30 minute tempo run in the wind and rain on Wednesday and a 40 minute not very speedy speed work session on Saturday.

A  niggly right knee meant that I abandoned Thursday’s 60 minute easy run after 10 minutes and my 12 mile run yesterday. In addition to running three times, I also walked to and from my office every day and hobbled back home from the train station on Friday evening.

So what went wrong during the tenth week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

When I automatically woke up at 07:00 I noticed a couple of things. The fact I could barely move after my 12 mile run the previous day was predictable. The snow was slightly more unexpected, and meant that I didn’t get to meet up with my brother and mum for lunch. As I didn’t really fancy falling over and breaking something so close to the Cambridge Half, I decided to stay inside and spent most of the morning writing up some of the results of my research. The extra day unfortunately seemed to last less than 0.000001 nanoseconds.

Tuesday – Rest

 I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve not managed to complete my easy run on a Tuesday. A couple of weeks ago I postponed my run because I felt too tired; this week I postponed my run because my right knee felt niggly and because I ended up back in the Boathouse pub with one of my housemates.Collage 29We got to the pub early enough to take advantage of their cheap 2 for 1 food offer. My scampi and chips were okay but not amazing. I guess you get what you pay for. The three pints of Stella I consumed during and after my meal meant that I actually managed to sleep through the extractor fan.

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

Getting up on Wednesday morning was more than a little challenging. Fortunately, the 1.5 mile walk to work woke me up and I felt fine when I got to the office. Because I’m a complete muppet at times, I didn’t realise that I’d left my Garmin on my desk at work. As I couldn’t be bothered to walk another 3 miles to and from the office rescue it, I decided to run ‘naked’. I think I covered approximately three miles in 30 minutes. The wind, rain and challenging running conditions made the run feel worth a lot more than 3 miles. Unfortunately, my calf muscles felt incredibly tight when I got back to my room.

Thursday – 10 mins easy

I spent most of my day looking forward to getting outside, running for an hour and forgetting about everything. Although I’m enjoying my new job, I do miss being my own boss and having the freedom to experiment, to get things wrong and to ‘think outside the box. After what felt like an incredibly long day in the office, I got back to my room, got changed into some running gear, did some stretches and then headed out the door. A tight right calf and niggly right knee meant that I rather reluctantly abandoned my run after only 10 minutes. Sometimes I really hate being such an injury-prone runner.

Friday – 40 mins torture

Although the walk into the office on Friday morning was rather chilly, I felt a touch jealous of the person I spotted rowing on the River Thames. What an incredible way to start the day.  Collage 30Once again I managed to escape from the office at 15:00. Thanks to the combination of a late running bus, traffic in Oxford and train delays, I didn’t get back to Four Oaks until almost 19:00. As my right knee still felt quite niggly I decided to give my usual stair session a miss. I had a quick shower, put all my work clothes in the wash, ordered myself a Chinese and then treated? my calf muscles to a 40 minutes of foam roller torture. As I’m useless at inflicting pain on myself, I also dug out my rather ancient ‘The Stick’ and gave my calf muscles a good massage. I think the torture session made a difference.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

As I have a sneaky suspicion that my ‘sprint finish’ at parkrun last week buggered up my fragile calf muscles, I rather reluctantly decided to stay at home. With a bit of luck I’ll be back at Walsall Arboretum next Saturday. I wanted to save my legs for my 12 mile run and to enjoy my speed session so I used my Garmin as a stopwatch. Although my speed work session definitely wasn’t very speedy, my calf muscles felt fine and my right knee was niggle free.

When I got home I discovered that my number for Cambridge had arrived. I’ve got everything crossed I can actually run! The rest of my Saturday passed by far too quickly. I met up with mum for an early lunch, spent a couple of hours catching up on some slightly overdue housework, tortured myself again with my foam roller, watched some of the indoor athletics, had a power nap and then walked to the local pub to meet a couple of friends for yet more pub grub and a couple of pints.

Sunday – 12 miles long run

Although I felt refreshed after a great night’s sleep, my right knee felt so sore, I decided to completely abandon my 12 mile run. Years ago I would have run through the pain barrier to complete my run. I’m now a lot more sensible older and experienced enough to realise that running would have made the niggle develop into a ‘proper’ injury.

I spent an enjoyable couple of hours finishing This Girl Ran and then headed into Sutton Park for some exercise, fresh air and thinking time. The rest of the day was over far too quickly and it was soon time for me to start the long journey back down to Wallingford.

So that’s the tenth week of my Cambridge Half marathon training not exactly successfully completed. I’ve got everything crossed that my niggles don’t turn into injuries.

Week 11 – the penultimate week of my half marathon training plan – is described by my running coach friend as ‘Taper Week 1’. Happy days! As I’m starting to fall to pieces, I suspect that my Monday and Thursday rest days will be the highlight of my week. As always, I’ll meant to complete four training runs; a 50 minute easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a six mile run at race pace on Sunday.

If my right knee is feeling niggly when I get home on Friday, I’m going to skip my 40 minute cross training session and dig out my foam roller again.

Training totals;

  • Runs: 31
  • Time: 21 hours 22 mins
  • Distance: 126.46 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Right calf: 5/10
  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Left calf: 5/10

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 9

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to complete a 12 mile run. I’m feeling far too chirpy for a Monday morning because thanks to a lack of direct trains between Birmingham and Oxford last night, I decided to book the day off work.Collage 24Following an incredibly tiring Monday – heading to bed at midnight on Sunday wasn’t sensible, I completed a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a slightly delayed 50 minute easy run on Thursday and only managed to do 20 minutes of cross-training on Friday. I completed my second parkrun of the year on Saturday and spent a couple of hours running around Four Oaks early yesterday morning.

In addition to running four times, I walked the mile or so to and from the office every day. Most mornings it was freezing. All the extra exercise means I’m feeling a lot fitter and ready for the half marathon next month.

I just have to hope I don’t pick up a random injury between now and the start of March!

Monday – Rest

The combination of running 10 miles on Sunday morning and not getting to sleep until almost 01:00 left me feeling shattered on Monday. Getting out of bed at 07:00 was challenging, and I suspect I did an accurate impression of a zombie while I was in the office. Looking back I’ve got no idea how I made it to 17:00 without an afternoon nap. Fortunately, the walk home in what felt like Arctic conditions woke me up. After a quick trip to Waitrose – Wallingford is too posh for cheaper supermarkets, I spent Monday evening catching up on some of my favourite blogs and responding to blog-related emails.

Tuesday – Rest

Last week, I failed to complete my 50 minute easy run on Tuesday because I was feeling absolutely shattered. This week, I failed to run on Tuesday evening because I ended up having a couple of pints with one of my housemates in the Boat House.Collage 25I didn’t feel too guilty about missing my run, as my niggly right knee definitely seemed to appreciate the extra rest day. I also really enjoyed getting to test out one of the many pubs in Wallingford. The walk back in the snow was an added bonus.

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

On Wednesday morning, I was reminded why drinking on a ‘school night’ isn’t very sensible. Getting out of bed was difficult and by lunchtime I was seriously flagging. Completely missing my lunch break because I had to travel to Reading for a meeting probably didn’t help. Fortunately, the walk home woke me up, and when I said I was going to give training with Run Wallingford a miss, my housemate offered to come running with me. Although the cold weather and my housemates pace made the run challenging, I enjoyed running with someone else and getting to see more of Wallingford.

After returning from my run, I prepared my lunch, remembered to get my PPE together ready for spending the day doing field work, set my alarm for a slightly unsociable time and went to bed at a sensible time.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

Thursday was long and quite tiring. I spent all day doing fieldwork and think I overdosed on fresh air. At least I finally got to see some rivers! Thanks to traffic on the M4 and some ‘navigation issues’ on the way into Reading, I didn’t get home until almost 19:00.Collage 26To be honest, I felt so shattered, I didn’t feel like running. I rather reluctantly changed into some running gear and headed out before I could change my mind. The actual run was fine but hard work, possibly because I hadn’t had anything to drink or eat since lunch! I bumped into a group of runners and discovered they were from Wallingford Triathlon Club. I got home, made myself something to eat, made sure I’d packed everything I needed for a long weekend at home, had a shower and headed to feeling exhausted.

Friday – 20 mins cross-training

As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when one of my housemates woke me up at 05:00. Fortunately, my day improved when I discovered that I’d got a place in one of my bucket list races – the Royal Parks Half – on my seventh attempt. When I spotted the ‘congratulations’ email I thought there had been a mistake. I managed to escape the office at 15:00 and got home three hours later. I should have completed a 50 minute cross-training session but felt so shattered I only managed to spend 20 minutes walking up and down the stairs at home.

Saturday – Walsall Arboretum parkrun

I enjoyed parkrunning so much two weeks ago, I was thrilled when I convinced my friend to give me a lift to and from Walsall Arboretum. The weather felt exactly the same as it did a fortnight ago, it was incredibly cold, wet and quite windy. As I arrived at the start with less than a minute to spare, I had to start a little further back than I would have liked. Once I’d managed to navigate my way through the crowds at the start, I increased my pace and was quite pleased when I discovered that I’d finished in 28:44 and had knocked 30 seconds off my previous time.Collage 27The rest of the day was quite not as productive as I’d hoped. As both of my calf muscles were feeling incredibly tight after parkrun, I treated them to a foam rolling session. The pain was pretty intense. I spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep. I also paid £60.95 to enter the Royal Parks Half, I’ve got everything crossed I make it to the start line in October!

Sunday – 12 mile long run

Last week, once I’d woken and warmed-up I really enjoyed my 10 mile long run. Unfortunately, yesterdays 12 mile run was anything but enjoyable. My calf muscles felt incredibly tight and didn’t appear to want to warm up. I felt tired, thirsty and under-fuelled and almost stopped running after four, six and eight miles. I felt so nauseous after 10 miles I had to walk for a couple of seconds. To add insult to injury, the route I’d spent ages mapping out turned out to be 11 rather than 12 miles long #muppet

So that’s the ninth and the most challenging week of my Cambridge Half marathon more or less successfully completed.

For some reason, I assumed that week 10 of my half marathon training plan would form part of the taper. Sadly I was wrong! I have a feeling that the rest days on Monday and Thursday will be the highlight of the week. Following Mondays rest day I’m meant to complete an hour long easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – if Run Wallingford are actually running I may join them, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and another 12 mile long run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 28
  • Time: 21 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 118.48 miles


  • Right heel: 1/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 6/10


Cambridge Half Marathon training week 7

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to convince my friend to drive me to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. After struggling to find suitable places to run in the evening in Wallingford, it felt great to be running in the daylight again.Collage 17Following an incredibly tiring Monday – I’m not convinced I’ve adapted to working in a office yet, I completed my first solo run in Wallingford on Tuesday evening, a 30 minute tempo run on Thursday evening, Walsall Arboretum parkrun and a slightly longer 6 mile run yesterday morning.

Once again, a lack of organisational skills and time on Friday morning meant that I found myself walking up and down the stairs for 50 minutes in the evening. Not ideal after I’d treated myself to a Chinese takeaway.

So how did my fragile feet and knees cope with the demands of the seventh week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Fortunately, Monday was an incredibly restful rest day. After a rather eventful bus journey between Oxford and Wallingford, I didn’t arrive back in my room until almost 22:00 on Sunday. I then found it virtually impossible to get to sleep. I can’t remember exactly when one of my housemates decided to make loads of noise in the kitchen by turning on the extractor fan, but I think it was around 05:00. Marvellous! Work was rather challenging mentally as I was tired and thoughts such as “This time yesterday I was running in a snowy Sutton Park” and “This time yesterday I was in Four Oaks” kept going through my mind.

Tuesday – 45 mins easy

Following a busy and rather tiring day in the office, I found myself getting changed into my ‘lucky’ running outfit just before 19:00. Call me superstitious, but I wanted to do as much as I could to make my first solo run in Wallingford a success! Once I’d warmed-up – I suspect my housemates now think I’m slightly strange – I headed out on what should have been an ‘easy’ 45 minute run. Unfortunately, the run itself felt anything but ‘easy’ as I felt both tired and hungry. After less than 10 minutes I realised my legs were not completely recovered from my snowy Sunday morning run. Looking back, I’ve genuinely got no idea how I managed to run for 45 minutes.

Wednesday – Rest

My original plan was to join up with the Run Wallingford group again. I really enjoyed running with a group last week and was looking forward to running in new places and meeting some more people. However, a sneaky peak on Facebook during my lunch break informed me that the group would be completing a circuits session rather than running. As my rather fragile feet and knees didn’t appear to appreciate last week’s burpees and squats, I decided to be brave and to run on my own again. Collage 18After spending most of the afternoon researching potential running routes in the centre of Wallingford, I ended up postponing my run by 24 hours. Without going into too much detail, I discovered something else my temperamental stomach can’t tolerate. Next time I see anything containing chickpeas I’ll stay well away, it took my stomach ages to return to normal.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

When I got back from the office at 18:30, I felt so hungry I knew that I would struggle to make myself run. I was about to abandon my 30 minute run for a second time, when I received a text message from my mentor. I can’t share the exact contents of the text message, but I was reminded that I’m healthy and I’m lucky I can run. I got changed into my running gear.

My tempo run was challenging because I was feeling angry and made the mistake of setting out at a far too ambitious pace. I was struggling to breathe after 5 minutes, nearly tripped over after 10 minutes and wanted to walk after 15 minutes. Looking back, I’ve got no idea how I managed to complete my training run. If I feel as unfit as I did during Thursdays 30 minute tempo run, I’m going to struggle to complete the half marathon in March.

Friday – 50 mins cross training

Like last week, thanks to the flexi-time system, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. Unlike last week, I felt shattered and seriously considered not attempting my weekly cross training session. Once I’d had a quick shower and a power nap I felt ready to spend almost an hour walking up and down the stairs at home. I’m not sure why, but I found this particular cross training session more challenging than my 8 mile run on Sunday.

Saturday – Walsall Arboretum parkrun

I should have completed a 40 minute speed work session but decided to head to Walsall Arboretum parkrun for the first time since August. Although it was cold, wet and windy and the start of the course was very crowded, I decided to see if I could run a sub 30 minute 5k. I felt amazing during the first lap, not so great during the second lap and wanted to walk a million times during the third and final lap. As you can imagine, I was over the moon when my text arrived and I discovered that I’d finished in 29:15.Collage 19I’m not sure that spending several hours on a train surrounded by people coughing and spluttering did me any favours, as I started to feel quite peaky on Saturday afternoon. I decided that I probably just needed to sleep for a couple of hours so headed to bed for a power nap. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much better when I woke up, and the rest of my Saturday was rather unproductive. Such a waste of a day.

Sunday – rest

When my alarm woke me at 07:00, I felt so unwell I knew that even attempting to run would be stupid. Much as I hate missing longer training runs, I didn’t want to extend my cold and cough by running. I turned off my alarm and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The rest of my Sunday was a little disappointing as I spend most of the afternoon in bed. Perhaps I should have stayed in Wallingford!

So that’s week 7 of my training for the Cambridge Half Marathon not exactly completed. I’m starting to get a little concerned about my missed training runs. Although I missed my longer run yesterday, I’m really pleased that I finally found the confidence to run in Wallingford alone.

As always, week eight of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day. I have a feeling that unless I shift this cough/cold Tuesday will also be a rest day. I’ve then got to complete an easy 50 minute run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – if Run Wallingford are running rather than circuit training on Wednesday I will probably join them, 40 minutes of speed work on Saturday and a longer 10 mile run on Sunday.

At some stage on Friday, I’ve got to squeeze in an hour’s worth of cross-training. As I don’t think I’ll be returning to Four Oaks, I may well check out one of the gyms in Wallingford after work.

Training totals

  • Runs: 20
  • Time: 13 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 73.62 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 4/10

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 5

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. Mine was a little frantic at times. Thanks for all of your tips on dealing with life related stresses. When this post is published, I should be about an hour into my new job. I’ve decided to include some of my favourite photos of Four Oaks to remind me of home.Collage 11Following a slightly stressful return trip to Wallingford on Monday, week five of my Cambridge Half training saw me complete an easy 40 minute run on Wednesday evening, a 30 minute tempo run late on Thursday and a 30 minute speed session on Saturday morning. For various reasons, I completely missed my longer 8 mile yesterday. Once again, I found myself walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes on Friday.

So how did my dodgy calf muscles and niggly left foot cope during week five of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Monday was restful but quite draining. My friend very kindly drove me down to Wallingford to check out the room I’ll be renting to start with. For some reason I felt shattered when I got back home. So back to the room. I don’t want to say too much, but although the house is in a great location, there is no shared living room and the room itself was a little disappointing. At least I’ll have more time for reading and blogging.

Tuesday – Rest

Like last Tuesday, I woke up really incredibly gloomy. I’ve said it numerous times but I spend far too much time comparing myself to others. I lay in bed thinking about how little I’ve achieved for someone who is rapidly approaching 40. Most of my contemporaries own their own house, are married with kids and have successful careers. I failed as an academic, and have a PhD not worth the paper it’s printed on. I spent most of the day looking back on all of my career and personal mistakes and worrying about my finances.Collage 12Needless to say, what should have been a head clearing easy 40 minute run turned into another rest day. I know that I always feel better after a run but for some reason, couldn’t force myself out of the door. Sometimes I really don’t help myself.

Wednesday – 40 mins easy

Although I woke up incredibly sorry for myself, again – so much for my New Year’s resolution to be more positive – a text message from my mentor Geoff put everything into perspective. My life may be a filled with uncertainties at the moment, my left foot may be a bit niggly, but I’m reasonably fit and healthy. I spent most of the day writing list after list and wearing out the washing machine. I decided that while I’m not exactly looking forward to leaving Four Oaks, I can make sure that I remember to take everything I need with me to Wallingford.

After a reasonably productive day, I headed out on my 40 minute easy run just after 20:00. Once again, my calf muscles felt a little tight and niggly to start with, but felt okay when I’d been plodding along for a few minutes. I think I actually managed to run at an ‘easy’ pace for the first time in ages. I started off slowly and resisted the temptation to speed up. I felt great when I got home.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

I had originally planned to get my 30 minute tempo run done and dusted before 08:00. However, limited sleep due to the combination of restless legs, an incredibly achy left foot and some epic over-thinking meant that I completely slept through my alarm clock. After spending most of the day trying and failing to finish my discharge-rich paper, I headed across Birmingham to collect a couple of papers from the university library.Collage 13The train home was full of people returning from a concert. The slightly drunken singing was entertaining to start with, but got a little irritating after 30 minutes. I walked home, changed into some running gear and headed out the door. My 30 minute tempo run was completely pain-free and felt amazing. I sometimes wonder if running at an easy pace doesn’t suit my slightly lanky legs.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

Last week, I vowed to find a more enjoyable alternative to my usual 40 minute stair session. As I don’t think shopping counts as cross-training, I found myself plodding up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes on Friday afternoon. I suspect that I’ll have to completely abandon my weekly cross-training session next week. At the moment I’m aiming to leave Wallingford early on Friday afternoon so that I can catch the 17:00ish train from Oxford.

Saturday – 30 mins speed work

Following the advice of my running coach, I decided to use my Garmin as a stopwatch rather than as a GPS for the third week in a row. As the top of my left foot wasn’t feeling great, I decided to jog for 10 minutes to get my injury-prone feet and legs warmed-up. The second I started jogging my left foot stopped hurting, I sometimes wonder if some of my niggles are all in my mind. Although my 30 minute Fartlek session felt like hard work, when I got home I quickly realised that I ran further during my 30 minute tempo session on Thursday night. Another speed work session fail.

I spent the rest of the day ironing, packing, buying some last minute bits and pieces, stressing, crying, researching train and bus times and generally getting myself completely worked up. Rather than making the most of my last full day in Four Oaks, I’m so pathetic I kept on thinking ‘this time tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Wallingford’ and ‘this time tomorrow I’ll be in Wallingford’. And I wonder why I started to go grey when I was 16! At least I remembered to map out a route for my 8 mile longer run.

Sunday – 8 miles long run

Predictably, I got zero sleep and lay awake all night stressing myself out about the new job. Most people would see starting a new job and getting their foot back on the career ladder as a major positive, I could only focus on the negatives. I’m all too aware that if I don’t at least start this job, I’ll be letting a lot of people down, especially my mentor Geoff. However, I’m also scared that I’ll fail, again.

So that’s week five of my half marathon training not completed. As I’ll be adapting to working 9-5 for the first time in years and living in a new town, I’m not sure how I’ll find the sixth week of training. I just hope that there are a few street lights in Wallingford!

Week six of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day, this is probably a good thing as I have no doubt I’ll be feeling tired after starting my new job. I’ve then got to complete an easy 45 minute run around an area I’m completely unfamiliar with – at the moment I’m checking out roads with streetlights on Google maps, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a slightly longer 8 mile run on Sunday. It will be good to reach the half-way stage of my training.

At the moment I’m planning on returning home on Friday afternoon, so although I may have to forfeit the weekly cross-training session, weather permitting I’ll be able to do a couple of runs in Four Oaks.

Training totals

  • Runs: 14
  • Time: 8 hours 24 mins
  • Distance: 46.96 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 6/10
  • Calf muscles: 3/10