London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 7

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m actually in the office on a Monday, the struggle is real. I think the highlights of my weekend were volunteering at Sutton Park parkrun and completing a longish training run.Collage 15Week 7 of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 20-25 minute run later today, a steady 40 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 50-60 minute run on Thursday, and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After missing far too many training runs due to illness, I was determined to complete the longer run on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the seventh week of my half marathon training? Did my running mojo return? Did my right knee behave itself? Did I manage to avoid injuring myself?

Monday – 20-25 mins easy

The seventh week of my half marathon training started with another visit to the dentist. I was told to avoid eating certain foods – no more crackling for me – and given the great news that I didn’t have to return. I spent what was left of the morning analysing some river flow data and then got changed into some running gear. I headed outside and spent what felt like ages loitering outside my house waiting for my Garmin to function as a GPS.

The run itself felt a lot harder than it should have done, it wasn’t what I would describe as easy. I decided run towards the local shops, this route is quite challenging because the first mile is virtually all uphill. I was amazed that I managed to run up one of my nemesis hills without slowing to a walk. The run down a steepish hill to get back to where I started probably wasn’t sensible. At least I managed to complete a training run.

Tuesday – 40 mins steady

Rather predictably, I was on the receiving end of some ‘Emma doesn’t like Mondays’ type banter at work. I looked back at my timesheets and discovered that I’ve only been in the office once on a Monday since the middle of December. I guess there are some advantages to flexible working. Once I’d gone through my emails and responded to an email inviting me to the official unveiling of Geoff’s portrait, I had a reasonably productive day and didn’t escape until 17:00.

I popped into Waitrose on the way back to my lodgings and stocked up on some essentials including loo roll. During a recent Brexit workshop we were told to stock up on loo roll, rather random but running out would be a nightmare. I got back to my room, lay on my bed and woke up two hours later. So much for having a productive evening. I rather reluctantly got changed into some running gear and headed out into the cold. My rubbish Garmin 235 decided to ‘die’ after five minutes so I had no idea how long I’d been running and what sort of pace I was running at. Knowing me, not for long enough and at the wrong pace.

Wednesday – Rest

My right knee felt a little niggly during the walk into work; luckily Wednesday was a rest day. I checked my emails when I got into the office and discovered that there was a potential sickness bug where I work, what a great way of making everyone imagine they felt unwell. I made sure I avoided the lift and used the antibacterial wipes and gel that had been provided.

Following a reasonably productive day, I left the office with a colleague and spent a couple of hours working on a poster for a conference and also drinking beer. I’m not sure if the beer made us more or less productive. Poster sort of completed, we walked the short distance to the Old Post Office in Wallingford where I’d booked a table.Collage 16The food was amazing but quite expensive; I don’t think I could afford to eat there on a regular basis, definitely more of a rare treat. After demolishing a large portion of fish and chips, I ordered ice cream and instantly regretted my decision because I struggled to finish my final pint. The 15 minute walk back to my lodgings was more than a little uncomfortable. I just hoped I’d simply eaten too much and wasn’t about to be ill.

Thursday – 50-60 mins steady

I’d just eaten too much, phew! Please can someone explain why I always feel hungry the morning after I’ve eaten a huge evening meal? It just doesn’t make much sense to me. Anyway, thanks to some dense fog, the walk into the office was hilarious; at one point I couldn’t actually see where I was going and nearly walked into a hedge. Thanks to a couple of meetings and a ‘lunch and learn’ session, the day flew by.

I got back to my room and spent an hour or so catching up on emails and Holby City. My Garmin was still completely dead and the charging lead over 100 miles away in Four Oaks. This left me with a dilemma; should I run for 50-60 minutes and not worry about the distance or pace, or should I postpone my training run? I decided to run.

I know I’m repeating myself but running can be unpredictable. After finding running for 40 minutes quite difficult, I was a little nervous when I headed out with the aim of running for an hour. The run went reasonably well, I had a slightly scary moment when a car nearly reversed into me, the rest of the run was incident-free. My only minor concern was my right knee which felt quite niggly the second I finished running.

Friday – Rest

How amazing was the weather on Friday, what a difference to the week before. I think most sensible people were out on site visits or on leave because the office was really quiet. The peace and quiet meant that I managed to complete one of the hydrological assessments that I’d been putting off doing for ages.Collage 17I left the office at 15:00 and after a somewhat hectic journey got back home three hours later. The moment I stepped through my front door I went into what I call ‘getting shit done’ mode. I had a lengthy ‘things to do’ list and not much time to get everything done.

Saturday – Rest

For some reason I woke up at 05:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep, slightly frustrating given how tired I’d been feeling when I headed to bed. I decided to make the most of my early start and put on a load of washing and listed some bits and pieces on a Facebook selling page. At 08:00 I headed to Sutton Park parkrun for a spot of volunteering. The weather was perfect for running and although I was completely on my own, I had an enjoyable hour or so hopefully encouraging all the runners and walkers.  Collage 18I left Sutton Park at 11:00 and met up with Vic in Sutton Coldfield. What followed was a slightly stressful 45 minutes looking at mobile phones. Why is buying a mobile phone so complicated? Vic kindly gave me a lift to Mere Green – by this stage it was lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten – and I managed to convince him heading to Bistrot Pierre for lunch was a brilliant idea.Collage 19The rest of Saturday was far more mundane. Think ironing, cooking, getting unwanted running gear ready to post and playing hunt the Garmin charging cable. I eventually found it in the bottom of my wardrobe. I put my Garmin on charge, laid out some running gear and went to bed at a sensible time.

Sunday – 100 mins comfortable 70 mins comfortable

I headed out at 05:30 yesterday morning with the aim of running for 100 minutes, but promised not to beat myself if I had to cut my run short. I did my best to slow my pace down and spent a lot of time checking my Garmin. I’m not sure if it’s because I have long legs, but I seem to find slowing my pace down quite tricky. The first ten minutes or so felt quite tricky; running past the train station knowing I’d be back there 12 hours later was mentally tough. Once I turned onto the main Lichfield Road, I felt like I was running directly into the wind, this slowed me down. After 30 minutes I headed into Mere Green and ran past Bistrot Pierre.

The second half of the run was tough. After 50 minutes of running my right knee started to feel quite sore, so I decided to be sensible and to cut my run short. In the end I ran for 70 minutes, 30 minutes less than the 100 minutes I’d been aiming for. I got home, made myself a cup of tea and spent a chilly 15 minutes icing my right knee. My knee has felt fine since the run, so I’m hopeful it’s nothing too serious.

The rest of the day was quite relaxed, just what I needed. I caused a queue at the local Post Office, I washed my friend’s car, watched the Bristol City v Wolves match and generally chilled out. As always, the weekend seemed to fly by and I rather reluctantly had to travel back down to Wallingford.

So that’s week seven of my half marathon training plan more or less completed. After my Garmin issues, I’ve bought a second Garmin charging cable so I can keep one in Four Oaks and one in Wallingford. I’m starting to feel really concerned about my lack of fitness and stamina. If I don’t nail a couple more long training runs, the panic will be real.

The eighth week of my training plan looks reasonably achievable. The plan recommends that I complete an easy 30 minute run today, a 45 minute steady run on Wednesday, a 5k time trial on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 12
  • Time: 8 hours 57 mins
  • Distance: 50.86 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right wrist: 8/10 (I’ve no idea what I’ve done to it!)

A rather strange question, but have you ever woken up with a random injury? I’ve no idea what I’ve done to my right wrist but it’s incredibly painful at the moment.

Are your local parkruns struggling for volunteers at the moment? I’m not sure if half term was to blame, but quite a few local parkruns really seemed to struggle. Having said that, I didn’t appreciate feeling like I was being pressured into putting my name down to volunteer at next week’s event.

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Rants and raves #33 [And a giveaway]

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending an expensive and not very enjoyable hour at the dentist. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. As a result, this blog may well be slightly more moany than usual. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: My new lodgings

I’ve escaped from the shared ‘House of Doom’. I’m now living with a lovely lady and her elderly dog. I feel safe when I go to sleep, and don’t get woken up at 4am and 5am by people turning on the extractor fan in the kitchen. I’ve been getting 8 hours sleep a night and have been waking up feeling refreshed.

My temporary contract was extended last week; I’m now looking forward to living and working in Wallingford until at least the end of June.

Rant: SpareRoom

Last month, I escaped from the shared house I’d been living in endured for 12 months. The final straw was returning after Christmas, and discovering the one housemate I actually had something in common with and spoke to had moved to Reading. To make matters worse, two people had moved into the room next to me and they were noisy. Like really noisy; I could hear every word they were saying at 2am in the morning. It got so bad; it was a case of find somewhere better or hand in my notice at work.SpareRoom

Even this shared house sounded better!

I was a little surprised to see the house advertised on SpareRoom as having a lounge, an immaculate garden, friendly professional and quiet housemates, parking and a spotlessly clean kitchen. The house had no lounge – the lounge has been converted to a bedroom, the garden is a jungle, most of the housemates were anything but friendly, there is no parking and the kitchen is so dirty, I never risked preparing food in there. All the photos looked really old; possibly from when the house was last sold, the photo of the room wasn’t even of my old room.

The blatant lie that made me report the listing to SpareRoom was the description of the ‘current housemates’. The advert stated 3 Males, 3 Females whereas the reality is 7 males. Incredibly misleading. I reported the listing to SpareRoom and from what I can tell they did bugger all. The completely misleading listing was live for a couple of weeks and has now disappeared. I just hope the new housemate has some good earplugs.

Rave: Famous failures

Sometimes I need to remind myself that it is acceptable to make mistakes and to fail! 

Thanks Jeff!

Rant: The lurgy

I’m still not feeling completely recovered after my recent cough and cold. I’m finding running more of a struggle than it should be, and feel like I’ve lost a lot of my fitness and running stamina. I spend a lot of time on trains and buses surrounded by people coughing and sneezing. A lot of people make zero effort to cover their mouth when they cough and sneeze, it’s disgusting.  I’m getting slightly paranoid I’m going to get ill again between now and the London Landmarks Half at the end of March.

Does anyone know where I can buy my own breathing apparatus set?

Rave: Bargainous 2XU reflective leggings

I recently popped into my local TK Maxx on the final day of the ‘yellow sticker’ sale. Predictably, the vast majority of the items left in the sale were either broken, not in my size or unidentifiable. I did, however, spot a pair of these 2XU reflective leggings in my size.2XU leggingsThey set me back the grand total of £2.50, definitely a bargain. I also bought another couple of pairs of leggings in a smaller size, hopefully a bit of an incentive for me to lose a bit of weight before I’m 40.

Rant: eBay again

After last year’s automatic relisting saga, I decided to give eBay another chance. I’m aiming to sell my unwanted running gear to raise money for race entries.

I listed a couple of pairs of running shorts and made sure that the ‘automatically relist’ option wasn’t selected. I was so paranoid I double-checked both listings. My listings ended on Friday, one was automatically relisted and the other wasn’t. I only knew one had been relisted when someone sent me a stupidly low offer. I declined the offer and deleted the listing and a couple of other listings I had scheduled.eBay woes

[Source]

Unless eBay stop trying to automate everything, I’m going to stick to buying and not selling. There are cheaper alternatives including Facebook selling pages.

Rave: Facebook selling pages

I listed the running shorts that failed to sell on eBay on a Facebook selling page and both pairs sold pretty much instantly. I got what I wanted and saved money as I didn’t have to pay eBay and PayPal fees. Definitely what I call a win-win situation. I just need to make sure I don’t spend all the money I make buying running gear I don’t need.

Rant: The Running Bug

Did I completely miss an email or something similar warning me that The Running Bug site was closing its doors? I only became aware it had closed when I did a broken link check.The Running BugThe site had an amazing online community and contained a lot of incredibly useful running related articles. It seems a shame for everything to disappear without warning.

Rave: Reflective hairband and a giveaway

And finally, what I hope is a bonus rave. The first and quite possibly last giveaway I’ll ever attempt to organise through this blog.

Last month, Kimberley contacted me and asked if she could send me a reflective headband to wear and review during my night-time training runs. I said yes and received four of these amazing headbands Kimberley has created in the post. I’ll be hopefully writing a review soon.Reflective headbandTo be in with a chance, please leave a comment below saying why a reflective headband would be useful to you. I’ll pick a winner at random and announce the winner on Sunday February 17th. Fingers crossed I get at least a couple of entries. Good luck!

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

Have you got any shared house horror stories you’d like to share with me?  

Did you use The Running Bug site? If you did, were you aware it was closing down?  

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 6

Happy(ish) Monday. I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. My weekend didn’t go to plan because I spent Saturday morning at the dentist. I can talk and eat again now so the torture session was worthwhile.Collage 14Week 6 and the halfway stage of my half marathon training plan was described as a taper week with a mini target race. The plan recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a faster 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday, a slow 15 minute run on Saturday and a 10k race or time trial on Sunday. As I’d already entered the Birmingham Winter 10k, I originally planned to switch Saturdays and Sundays sessions around. Unfortunately, my tooth meant that I DNS the Birmingham Winter 10k.

So how did I cope during the sixth week of my half marathon training? Did starting the week with a long run cause me any issues? Did the snow in Wallingford cause any problems? Did I manage to complete my training runs?

Monday – 30 mins easy

Thanks to inadvertently destroying one of my back teeth, I had to take the day off as last minute annual leave. Not the best way to spend annual leave but it meant that I got to run in the daylight. I decided to be sensible and to run before I went to the dentist so after spending an uncomfortable 30 minutes working out how much money I spent on running last year, I got changed and headed out the door.

I think it’s safe to say I got my pacing completely wrong.  I always seem to run too fast when it’s light outside, perhaps I need to stick to running in the dark. The ‘easy’ run felt anything but easy and the final 10 minutes were very much a case of ‘hanging on’ and trying not to slow to a walk. Not the most positive start to week six of my training.

Tuesday – 25 mins fast Rest

To add insult to injury, my fragile right knee felt quite niggly during the 30 minute walk into the office. Only I could potentially injure myself during a not-so-positive training run. Work was quite busy so the day seemed to fly by, always a massive bonus. It felt like one minute I was catching-up on my emails, the next it was time to head back home. As my knee still felt a little niggly during the walk back from work, I decided attempting a 25 minute speed session would be asking for disaster.

Wednesday – Rest

Once again, the working day seemed to fly by. I think having to focus the majority of my attention on technical hydrology work really helps. If I allow myself to get distracted, I make mistakes and end up repeating calculations. After 12 months I’ve worked out that listening to music really helps me focus. By 17:00 I’d had enough and started to walk back towards my lodgings with a colleague. We somehow found ourselves enjoying a quick drink. As I’d only had a small lunch, I managed to convince my colleague to join me for another meal in Delhi Brasserie. The food tasted amazing, it’s just a shame my stomach doesn’t seem to cope very well with spicy food. Without going into too much detail, I had a bit of a rough night.

Thursday – 45 mins steady

I had another productive day, partly because the office was almost completely empty. I had an entertaining few minutes when, thanks to a rather random work task relating to personal security, I had to Google my name. I found a strange combination of dodgy running photos, race results, social media rants, academic research and random planning applications. Having to tell one of my colleagues about this blog was a little awkward.

Managing to mess up my run on Monday completely knocked my confidence. I felt slightly apprehensive as I got ready for my run on Thursday evening; it took me a long time to get out the door. I decided to wear one of the reflective running headbands Kimberley very kindly sent me to test out. I’ll be writing a more detailed review later this week, please check out this Etsy shop. I’m not sure how I’d describe the 45 minute run; I’d probably award myself a C+. Although I managed to avoid starting at an unsustainable pace, I found parts of the run far more challenging than I should six weeks into my half marathon training.

Friday – Rest

I got drenched walking into the office and spent the morning struggling to dry out and to get warm. After a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00, and then got drenched for a second time walking through the centre of Oxford. I kept telling myself that after a dry January we need the rain…  Following a straightforward journey – I even got a seat on the local train – I headed straight to my favourite Chinese restaurant. Some habits are quite difficult to break.

Saturday – Rest

At 10:00 I found myself not on the start line of the Birmingham Winter 10k, but in my dentist’s waiting room. The hour I spent getting my tooth repaired being tortured wasn’t the highlight of my Saturday. I left the dentist and headed into Sutton with a slightly numb face. I managed to only buy what I needed and made it back home before the local anaesthetic I’d been given stopped working. After a quick recovery nap, I spent a productive hour sorting through my running gear. I listed a couple of pairs of leggings I’m never going to wear on the RMR second hand selling page. Both sold quickly, so I took them to the Post Office while it was still light. I got home, vacuumed the house and then sat down in front of the British Athletics Indoor Championships. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears!

Sunday – 10k race or time trial 60 mins easy

I decided to go back to the approach I used last year; setting my alarm for 05:00 and running before I could change my mind. As I wanted to enjoy my run and didn’t want to spend most of the time obsessively checking my pace, I decided to leave my Garmin at home and to run for an hour. Back to basics. I think this approach worked as I managed to run at a steady pace for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, thanks to a cunningly hidden puddle, my trainers got soaked in the first 10 minutes and felt like planks of wood. I think it may be time to treat my feet to a new pair. The rest of Sunday felt like it lasted five minutes. The weekends need to slow down a little.

So that’s week six of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I’m feeling a little underprepared at the moment and can’t believe I’ve reached the half-way stage of my training plan. Hopefully this time next week I’ll feel slightly more confident, at the moment I don’t feel like I could complete a half marathon.

I’m aware that I said this last time I followed this training plan, but I think week seven looks more than a little bit challenging. The training plan recommends that I complete a steady 20-25 minute run today, a steady 40 minute run tomorrow, a steady 50-60 minute run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I don’t want to talk myself out of my training plan, but I suspect I’ll struggle.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 5 hours 47 mins
  • Distance: 33 miles

 Niggleometer

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

If you blog, do your work colleagues know about your blog? Trying to explain the whole concept of blogging to a colleague was a little uncomfortable. I’m not even sure my family know about this blog.

How many miles do you wear your trainers for before you replace them? Brooks Adrenalines are meant to last between 300 and 500 mile. I’m a little disappointed my most recent pair only lasted 320 miles. I’m so injury-prone I don’t want to risk running in uncomfortable trainers.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 4

Good morning. Happy Monday. As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. After a slightly hectic week, I quite enjoyed spending a bit of time chilling out at home during the weekend.collage 8Week four of my London Landmarks Half training plan recommended that I completed a steady 45 minute run on Tuesday, a 60 minute easy run on Wednesday, a steady 45 minute run on Friday and a longer 80 minute run on Sunday. After not running for a couple of weeks, my main aim was to complete at least a couple of runs.

So how did I get on during the fourth week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to get my training back on track? Did my virus clear up enough to let me run? Did I spend my evenings feeling guilty for not running?

Monday – Rest

Thanks to taking a flexi day, I managed to avoid being in the office on Blue Monday. Although I didn’t feel great when I first dragged myself out of bed, I had a pretty awesome day. Mum collected me in the morning and drove us to the café at Chase Farm Shop for a cooked breakfast.collage 9I felt much, much better after working my way through a cooked breakfast, I could almost feel my energy levels increasing with each mouthful. Mum dropped me back home and I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon completing a job application and some blogmin. After a relatively speedy journey back to Wallingford, I spent the evening packing my bags ready to move out of my shared house.

Tuesday – 45 mins steady Rest

After one of my housemates woke me three times, getting up for work was challenging. I’m ashamed to admit I popped into Greggs on the way into the office and grabbed myself a couple of sausage rolls. Such an unhealthy breakfast but I needed some comfort food. The weather was a little random; at lunchtime it was sunny then it suddenly went dark and started to snow. The walk back to my shared house was slightly hazardous in places. Once I got back to my room, operation pack up and move my belongings. I managed to leave on good terms which is always a bonus. I briefly considered heading out for a celebratory run but decided not to risk running and falling over on the icy pavements.

Wednesday – 60 mins easy Rest

Thanks to some incredibly icy pavements, the walk into the office was hilarious. Looking back, I’ve genuinely got no idea how I managed to stay upright.collage 10A couple of interesting meetings meant that the day seemed to go quickly, and I was soon repeating my Bambi on Ice impression. I got back to my new room, lay on my bed and had a much-needed nap. The rest of the evening was slightly more productive. I think it’s safe to say I feel more relaxed now that I’ve moved out of the shared house of doom.

Thursday – Rest

Once again, the day seemed to fly by, always a positive. I escaped from the office when it was still light and called into the Boat House for a couple of drinks with a colleague. I’ve no idea why but BrewDog tastes better in Wallingford than it does in Four Oaks. We left the pub at a sensible time and walked the short distance to Delhi Brasserie for something to eat. If you ever find yourself in Wallingford – I’ve no idea why you would because there’s not a lot to do – check out Delhi Brasserie; the food is amazing.

Friday – 45 mins steady Rest

After a slightly bizarre week – I guess starting the week in one house and ending it in another is always going to feel a little strange – I was pleased when I could escape from Wallingford for a couple of days and head back home. I got home, stuck a load of washing in the machine, ordered myself a Chinese takeaway and relaxed in front of the TV. Not very exciting but just what this doctor ordered.

Saturday – Rest

I felt well enough when I woke up to attempt a short run. Unfortunately, thanks to an epic coughing fit, I had to head back home after 10 minutes. The rest of my Saturday was more positive. I popped into Sutton Coldfield and came away from TK Maxx with some yellow sticker sale bargains including three pairs of 2UX compression tights for only £2.50 a pair. I also bought some cheap running socks, a compression top with a built-in hydration pack and some smartish trainers for work. I briefly considered checking out the Birmingham branch of TK Maxx but decided to give my debit card a rest. The rest of Saturday was productive but dull; nothing beats ticking off loads of tasks on my things to do list.

Sunday – 80 mins comfortable Rest

Another day and another failed attempt at a training run. I only managed to run for 5 minutes before I had to return home. I really can’t imagine running a half marathon in a couple of month’s time. I can only hope that this virus clears up ASAP. So that’s the fourth week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training not completed. I’m trying to remain positive but it’s getting quite hard. I’ve just checked out the weather forecast for the week ahead and it doesn’t look great.

Week five of my half marathon training plan is described as the mid schedule peak. To be completely honest, I don’t feel like I’ve completed enough of the plan to be reaching a peak. I’ve got to complete an easy half hour run after work, a 20-25 minute speed session on Thursday, a steady 50 minute run on Friday and a longer 90 minute slow run on Sunday. The thought of running for 90 minutes sounds completely unrealistic at the moment, but I’ll see how I get on.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hours 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 0/10
  • Right foot: 0/10

Did you have much snow where you live? I’ve just checked out the forecast for Wallingford and the week ahead looks a bit dodgy.

What is your best running related bargain? I’m not sure I’ll ever beat 2XU compression tights for £2.50. I’ve been told that had I gone into TK Maxx later the tights would have been even cheaper.

Rants and Raves #32

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as I needed a break from completing a slightly tedious job application. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. I’m not looking forward to returning to my shared house. As a result, this blog may be slightly more ranty than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Christmas

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas, mine was reasonably positive. I managed to eat and drink far too much and spent some quality time with my parents. I like to think that my parsley stuffing balls were the highlight of our Christmas dinner. Actually, I think the turkey was the highlight; I love turkey and all the trimmings.Christmas 2018Christmas Day was actually quite a low-key event as there were only three of us. Boxing Day was a bit challenging at times, and I ended up in the local pub in the evening having a quiet drink. I found being surrounded by large groups of people a little difficult. I didn’t get to see a lot of my family, but will hopefully see them sooner rather than later.

Rant: Festive food shaming

One of the not-so-positive aspects of Christmas is what I call the festive food shaming. I hadn’t even digested my Christmas meal or eaten any sherry trifle when I spotted this on twitter. I can’t remember who shared it.  Christmas food shamingWhy do people (and some organisations who should really know better) feel the need to share this sort of rubbish? Maybe I’m just as bad for sharing it on my blog. I don’t want to know how far I’d need to run to burn off my Christmas meal. Talk about encouraging unhealthy eating habits.

Unfortunately, running related brands weren’t the only culprits. I spotted this Spillers advert on Boxing Day.SpillersI’m off to run three marathons and then to ride a random horse for a couple of days!

Rave: TK Maxx bargains

I’ve said it before, but I love TK Maxx and its randomness. I love finding hidden gems and the occasional pair of trousers that actually fit. Having said that, I also love the fact it’s now relatively easy to find bargainous running gear online – my local store has always had a slightly disappointing Activewear section.TK MaxxMy brother and sister-in-law very kindly gave me £40 of TK Maxx vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Although I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more running gear, I couldn’t not buy the 2XU leggings I spotted in the red sticker sale. I mean it would have been rude not to buy them as they were so cheap. I bought a couple of sizes to try on and must remember to return one pair. I’m good at buying things and forgetting to return them.

Rant: My Garmin 235

I’m aware that I’ve moaned about my Garmin 235 before and I’ve tried really hard to make myself like it, but I’m still not a fan. I don’t know if mine is faulty but the battery life is rubbish, it takes 5+ minutes for the GPS to be ready, the wrist-based heart rate sensor is a waste of time and spends half the time telling me I’m dead, and a large chunk of my data has randomly disappeared. So based on my personal experiences, I wouldn’t recommend runners buy a Garmin 235.

Apologies for the rather random rant, I do feel a bit better now. I’m tempted to contact Garmin as I don’t think my 235 should lose 50% of its battery life during a 30 minute run.

Rave: TopNine2018 Instagram

I spotted a few snide comments from the usual suspects about people sharing their #TopNine2018 photos, but I loved looking at all of them. My Top Nine Instagram posts had a definite running theme.MyTopNineI guess this makes sense because most of my Instagram followers are runners and I only tend to share running related photos. This year, I’m going to make more effort to update Instagram on a slightly more regular basis. Shameless self promotion alert, but if you don’t already, please follow me.

Rant: Out of control dogs

Although I love running in Sutton Park and I also love dogs, I’m getting slightly fed up with the number of out of control dogs in the park. I can pretty much guarantee that every time I run or walk in the park I’ll have a ‘run in’ with a dog.

I don’t care if your dog is “being friendly” or “just wants to play with you” or “won’t hurt you”, I’m going to be pissed off if your dog jumps up at me or chases me bearing its teeth. And as for the lady I spotted trying to walk five large dogs last week, did you really think it was a good idea?

Rave: Wolves

I’ve been a Wolves supporter since I was a child. There have been ups and (quite a lot of) downs, but at the moment, I’m enjoying the Wolves roller-coaster. The second half performance against Spurs was amazing. The performance against Crystal Palace was terrible.

Although 2019 didn’t get off to the best of starts, I’m looking forward to Wolves having a successful 2019.

Rant: The weather

I know I shouldn’t complain too much because it hasn’t snowed (yet) and the weather hasn’t really messed with my half marathon training schedule. However, I can’t remember the last time I spotted blue skies in Four Oaks. The skies in Four Oaks have been grey for what feels like weeks.WeatherI’m starting to suspect that the lack of decent daylight is messing with my mood. I need some sunshine and blue skies to cheer me up. I also need some slightly chillier weather to test out some of my Christmas presents.

Rave: New Trainers

During my Boxing Day online shopping spree, I somehow ended up on the Brooks Running website and found myself hitting ‘add to basket’ and then buying these Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers.BrooksAt £84 they weren’t cheap, but this FREE SHIPPING & RETURNS. With Brooks’ True Blue Guarantee, take our gear for a trial run and if you’re not 100% satisfied within 90 days, return it for free” caught my attention. If I’m not 100% satisfied, I will be getting in contact with Brooks.

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

What was the highlight of your Christmas meal? Are you a turkey fan or do you prefer to eat something else?

Have you ever had any scary dog incidents while out running? I hope that my recent experiences are unusual rather than the norm.  

What is the most you would spend on a pair of trainers? £84 was slightly more than I’m usually prepared to spend.

Supacore Compression performance wear review

Most of you will be aware that I’m a somewhat injury-prone runner. So as you can imagine, when the marketing manager for Supacore Compression, a compression performance wear company with a focus on injury prevention and rehabilitation contacted me, I was over the moon. They had found this website when they were searching for running blogs, and wondered whether I’d be interested in collaborating with a product review or feature. supacore_compression-colI went away, did a bit of research, liked what I read and agreed to review some products. Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across Supacore Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s some information about the brand.

An introduction to Supacore Compression

Supacore’s website includes a page dedicated to answering a range of FAQs. I’ve decided to share a couple of questions and answers here to provide some information about the brand.

How is Supacore different from other compression brands? Supacore is the only seamless compression product that assists with injury prevention and recovery for core, hip, groin and back related injuries. Products are constructed using unique seamless technology, enabling specific compression to be engineered into the garment without the use of uncomfortable seams.

Who should be wearing Supacore? According to the website, Supacore should be worn by:

  • All athletes (from beginners to professionals) who suffer from back, groin and hamstring injury and would like to keep playing and recover from injury faster.
  • All athletes who want to increase core stability.
  • All athletes wanting increased blood circulation, less soft tissue damage and faster recovery.
  • All athletes wanting to reduce the effect of DOMS and increase blood circulation.

A few months later, I was a little surprised when a parcel from Australia arrived in the post (I’d assumed I’d be receiving a parcel from Supacore’s UK-based distributor). Supacore had very generously sent me three items to review:

  • A unisex sleeveless compression top
  • A pair of women’s Coretech injury recovery and prevention compression shorts
  • A pair of calf compression sleeves

The items were well packaged and had been placed inside a white net bag with a drawstring. I’ve used this bag to transport my toiletries to and from the bathroom of my shared house. I had struggled to carry everything before; it’s always good to receive a ‘bonus’ item from a brand.  

Anyway, back to the point of this blog, a review of Supacore compression performance wear! I’ve decided to review the top, shorts and then the compression sleeves. A sort of top-down approach.

When I saw how tiny both the shorts and the sleeveless compression top looked, I had a scary flashback to the time I got myself trapped inside a top in a tiny changing room inside Selfridges. The changing room was boiling hot, and the more I tried and failed to remove the top, the more I panicked. At one stage I thought I was going to have to be cut out of a £100 top. I’ll never forget the feeling of relief when I finally managed to wiggle my way out of the top.

Sorry, I got sidetracked again. I figured that (a) compression gear is meant to be tight, the clue is in the name and (b) I was in my own bedroom, not in a tiny changing room. Also, if I couldn’t physically squeeze myself into the sleeveless top or the shorts it wasn’t the end of the world. I could always pass them onto someone who hasn’t spent the last couple of months trying out every food establishment in Wallingford.

Unisex sleeveless compression training top

According to Suapacore’s website, this top provides postural support at the upper and lower back which enables improved body movement, as well as reducing muscle oscillation and thereby injury during training. Compression also aids circulation during workouts, increasing performance and recovery.  The top is designed to be worn whenever you exercise, and can even be worn underneath everyday clothes to provide postural support. While I wasn’t quite brave enough to wear the top underneath my work clothes, I was brave enough to test the top out during some of my longer training runs.Training sleeveless top

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Apologies for including a stock photo, but I’ve decided not to include the photo my friend took of me wearing this top. I’m all for keeping it real, but I look terrible in the photos. The top was so tight I looked at the size guide for the top, unearthed my measuring tape and checked I’d asked for the correct size. I had done. I think it’s safe to say that when I saw the photo I had a bit of a reality check.TrainingTankBlack1_grande_13ac0cf6-aab4-474f-bd19-40871644b4fc_540x

[Source]

During longer runs, my complete lack of core strength and poor posture occasionally combine to leave me with back ache during and after my runs. In the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I actually had to lie down after some of my longer training runs to give my back a break. I briefly considered wearing the sleeveless compression top during the Royal Parks Half, but decided that wearing two new running tops in wet conditions was possibly asking for trouble.

I’ve worn the top during some of my recent longer training runs in Sutton Park. I love it! The top is quite long and doesn’t ride up when I’m running, perfect for this taller than average runner. The material is comfortable and doesn’t rub; I wish the same could be said for some of my other running vests. The material is also breathable which is brilliant because I don’t overheat when I wear the top as a base layer. Finally, the top feels incredibly supportive while not being restrictive, and definitely seems to help my posture. I haven’t had backache during or after any of my recent longer runs. I’m looking forward to wearing the top during a 2+ hour training run later this year.

Patented women’s CORETECH® injury recovery and prevention compression shorts 

I checked out the Supacore website, and discovered that these shorts are ideal for people with groin injury, hamstring injury or osteitis pubis; a common cause of chronic groin pain in footballers.  The shorts are also described as being ideal for new mothers wanting to speed up recovery after pregnancy. The shorts are different to other shorts, because along with several other features they have patented waistband technology, seamless knitting technology for comfort and longevity and medical grade compression level.Womens Coretech shorts

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Now although I can honestly say I’ve never owned or worn such an expensive pair of shorts – the shorts have a RRP of £85 – I looked forward to trying out the Coretech compression shorts more than the sleeves and top. It’s been a long time – possibly more than 10 years – since I last ran in a pair of compression shorts. I was intrigued to see how much or even if compression technology had evolved. Would the Coretech shorts live up to my expectations?Shorts

Shorts 2I’ve had more than my fair share of random running injuries. In 2005, a groin injury meant that I missed all of my longer training runs in the lead up to the London Marathon. One second I was running on a treadmill, the next I was in agony and could hardly walk. I managed to get around the London Marathon but ended up having to take a break from running. Fortunately, I haven’t had any issues with my groin since that disastrous treadmill training session.

I’ve worn the compression shorts on several training runs and I’m a fan. While the material the shorts are manufactured from looks slightly unusual, they are incredibly comfortable. I love the higher than normal waistband, it stays put and doesn’t ride down, definitely a bonus. Although the shorts feel tight and I could definitely feel the compression when I wore them, they weren’t overly restrictive when I was running. Finally, the material is not see-through, and the shorts passed the all important squat test.

Although I don’t think I’ll be wearing these shorts when I tackle my next half marathon in March – I need pockets – I will be wearing them during the majority of my longer training runs.

Calf compression sleeves

The final product I was sent to review was a pair of calf compression sleeves. I’m not going to go into too much detail as more information is available online. Supacore state that their calf compression sleeves are designed and manufactured using garment construction technology, including medically-proven gradient compression, and are seamless to ensure durability and comfort during use. The sleeves provide targeted compression to the lower leg providing a range of benefits; these include the reduction of muscle vibration which decreases the risk of injury whilst exercising.Calf Compression

[Source]

I’m not sure if I completely misinterpreted the size guide, but these were so long, they actually almost covered my knees. Now I have longer than average legs so this actually made quite a refreshing change. The sleeves felt slightly lacking in compression, and when I wore them during a run, they slipped down slightly.

I’ve worn several brands of compression sleeves and socks. In my opinion, compression sleeves have a couple of major advantages over socks. They are easier to put on and can also be worn with normal socks after a long run. These sleeves were lifesavers immediately after the Royal Parks Half when I wanted to wear compression socks to help my calf muscles recover but my feet were too sore to cope with anything other than my favourite fluffy ankle socks.

I’ve worn the sleeves a lot. I genuinely believe that wearing the sleeves immediately after the Royal Parks Half helped my slightly tight and niggly calf muscles recover from pounding the streets of London. I was able to walk rather than hobble the two miles to and from the office the day after the half marathon. Although at £26 these aren’t the cheapest compression sleeves on the market, I would be more than happy to spend that amount to invest in a second pair.

The washing machine test

One of the reasons it takes me a while to produce my product reviews is that I like to wear and wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. Grey Lululemon anti-stink top I’m looking at you.

Anyway, I’m pleased to report that all three items most definitely passed my stringent washing machine test.

The Verdict

So would I recommend Supacore compression performance wear? Yes, I would. The compression top, shorts and sleeves all felt incredibly comfortable when I wore them during and after longer training runs. All three items appear to have aided my recovery. I’ll definitely be wearing the shorts and top in the lead up to my next two half marathons.

Although the HQ of Supacore Compression performance wear is located in Melbourne, Australia, Supacore has a distributor in the UK called Live on the Edge.

**Full disclosure: Supacore sent me a unisex training sleeveless compression top, a pair of women’s Coretech compression shorts and a pair of calf compression sleeves for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I didn’t want to break the internet, some photos were taken from the Supacore website. As always all opinions are my own**

2018 Review: Running highlights & lessons learned

As 2018 is almost over – I swear January was only a month ago – I’ve decided to review my running highlights, lowest points and lessons learned throughout the year. As always, if you don’t enjoy reading lengthy posts I’d recommend that you close the page. Here are the links to my reviews of 2017 and 2016.

January

While most sensible people were out and about having fun, I quite literally ran into 2018. If I’m injury-free, I’m planning to do the same again this year. I started 2018 feeling positive and shared my running goals and entered a slightly ambitious number of races.Sutton ParkTraining for the Cambridge Half Marathon was going well, and I felt reasonably niggle free. I relocated to Wallingford to start a new job and joined up with the local running group; Run Wallingford, for some challenging training sessions. I completed my first Walsall Arboretum parkrun of the year in 29:15 and had some incredibly enjoyable runs in Sutton Park.

February

I was thrilled when I discovered I’d finally got a ballot place in the Royal Parks Half, and paid the £57+£3.95 postage and packaging entry fee without hesitating. A top tip, always check out the route and read the small print before entering expensive races. Although my Cambridge Half Marathon training continued, a frustrating knee niggle meant that I missed quite a few key training runs. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t feel very confident as the half marathon approached. I completed one parkrun in a slightly faster time of 28:44 and set myself the target of running the 5k distance in less than 25 minutes in 2018.

March

I unfortunately missed my target race the Cambridge Half Marathon due to illness; a touch embarrassing when I’d raised £500 for The Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. Once I’d recovered, I completed the inaugural and very exclusive, Four Oaks Half with Ellen and spent the rest of the day in bed feeling terrible.Post run selfieI also found myself running laps around Walsall Arboretum three times in March in times of 28:03, 29:05 and 29:51.Walsall parkrun 24_03_18 1

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

So much for getting faster with each parkrun, I’m definitely getting slower with age. A highlight of one of my trips to Walsall Arboretum was getting to meet blogging and running superstar; Anna the Apple.

April

At the beginning of April, I realised that I wasn’t really enjoying running, heading out the door had become a chore. After following training plans for what felt like months, I decided to run for fun for a while. It was time to keep it simple with no time or distance pressures. This approach seemed to work, and I completed what turned out to be my most enjoyable race of the year; the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run in a respectable time.Hopwas Woods

[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

It’s just a shame in typical Emma style I managed to injure my right knee during the race. I ended up missing a 10k race I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity to enter again; the Treehouse 10k in Cholsey near Wallingford.

May

The start of May saw me reach the grand old age of 39! I can’t believe I’m nearly 40, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. The highlight of what was a really low-key birthday was my right knee coping with a five-mile run after work. The following Bank Holiday weekend I celebrated my birthday with a trip to Walsall Arboretum parkrun – I was quite pleased to finish in 28:18 – and far, far too much food and drink.

The following weekend I completed Walsall Arboretum parkrun in 27:10, my fastest parkrun of 2018. I met up with Ellen for a couple of training runs in Sutton Park, experienced a not so relaxing post-work run with Run Wallingford, and at the end of the month, jogged around the hottest race ever; the Wallingford Thames Run.Group photo

[Photo: Run Wallingford]

The pint of cold and refreshing beer tasted amazing, all races should provide bars and BBQs. Looking back, May was a pretty awesome month.

June

The first weekend in June saw me complete a not very enjoyable Walsall Arboretum parkrun in 28:14, and the even less enjoyable Great Midlands Fun Run the following day. The highlight of the weekend was definitely the BBQ and beer afterward. I’ve said it before, but don’t think I’ll enter the Great Midlands Fun Run again, each year I either end up injured or have a shit time. I shared a really personal blog and received a shed load of support from people I’ll probably never meet. I completed another boiling hot race; the Aldridge 10k and failed to achieve a sub-60 minute 10k.

July

At the start of the month I shared a halfway(ish) through the year running goals progress report and adjusted some of my goals. Thanks to some major rail engineering works, I spent the weekend in Wallingford and finally popped my parkrun tourism cherry at a boiling hot Didcot parkrun.Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

A couple of weeks later, I returned to Walsall Arboretum and completed my tenth parkrun of the year in 27:52. I accepted that my sub 25-minute goal would have to wait until 2019, I just wasn’t fast enough. The following morning, I found myself running in Sutton Park with Ellen.Sutton Park ice cream

I was reminded that running with others is really, really good fun. I also discovered that I can run a couple of miles immediately after eating an ice cream without any repercussions. The end of July saw me complete the incredibly challenging and soggy Abbott Trail 10k and start my Royal Parks Half Marathon training.

August

Unfortunately, August wasn’t the most positive of months as my PhD supervisor, mentor and close friend Geoff Petts passed away. I’ll never forget opening the email with the heading ‘Geoff’ and realising that I’d missed my opportunity chance to say goodbye. Running and the Boat House pub next to the River Thames became my escape mechanisms. Although I *may* on occasion have had a few too many beers, I managed to complete the majority of my training runs.Sutton Park parkrun finish

[Photo: Richard Hill]

I also attended and wrote a brief review of the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun. After several failed attempts to get a Sutton Park parkrun up and running, it felt amazing to finally have a parkrun in my local park.

September

September was a far more positive month. I completed another four weeks of half marathon training and just about managed to avoid picking up any injuries. I really enjoyed a spot of volunteering at Sutton Park parkrun and managed to bag myself a sneaky PB at the Little Aston 5 mileparkrun volunteering

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

The following weekend I completed the Lichfield 10k in a disappointing 61:17. I made my usual mistake of setting out at a far too ambitious pace and paid the price. So much for finishing in under 60 minutes.Lichfield 10k

[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

While my own performance was pretty shit, my sister-in-law Julie completed the 10k distance in an absolutely amazing time.Lichfield 10k 2018

My slightly disappointing 28:23 parkrun summed up September. At the end of September, I returned to my old university to present some of my research at a hydrology conference. The conference was emotionally draining as it was originally going to be a large part of Geoff’s retirement celebrations.

October

The first Friday in October saw me travel into London for Geoff’s memorial service. The congregation was a who’s who of academia and hydrology. This quote will stay with me forever:

“The candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”

I stepped up my fundraising efforts and got closer to my £1000 target. Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me. I completed the final few sessions of half marathon training and felt quite confident I’d be able to achieve my sub 2:15 goal. I travelled to London the day before the half marathon and spent a slightly emotional day walking around parts of Marylebone and Southwark.

I wouldn’t recommend eating three large meals the day before a half marathon. I went to bed feeling like a giant slug. The weather on the morning of the Royal Parks Half was incredibly ‘hydrological’, I don’t think I’ve ever run in such wet conditions. The course was more than a little disappointing, I don’t think I’ll enter the ballot again.Royal Parks Half

I’m a little ashamed to admit that immediately after the Royal Parks half I completely lost my running mojo; I just didn’t feel like running. I wasn’t injured, I just couldn’t be bothered to pull on my trainers.

November

I’ve just checked my training log and discovered that I ran seven miles in November. The combination of a persistent knee niggle combined with a complete loss of running mojo meant that I just didn’t feel like running. Even buying new running gear in the Black Friday sales and reading my favourite running blogs didn’t seem to help.

I ran Sutton Park parkrun with Fetchie Rachel, realised that my knee still didn’t feel 100 per cent, and decided to DNS both the Birmingham MoRun and the Birmingham Christmas BII 10k. In an attempt to rediscover my running mojo, I treated myself to some running magazines. My loss of mojo had one slightly unexpected advantage, all the extra free time meant that I managed to get most of my Christmas presents purchased and wrapped and Christmas cards written. I also managed to complete some slightly overdue product reviews. Every cloud and all of that shebang.

On the final day of November, I entered the Run up to Christmas virtual running challenge and set myself the target of completing 50 km before Christmas Day.

December

December got off to a far, far more positive start. My right knee finally decided to stop randomly hurting, and for the first time in a month, I actually wanted to run. I got up stupidly early one Saturday morning and entered my target race for the second half of 2019. I met up with Ellen for a series of weekend runs in Sutton Park, these saw us running in some slightly tricky conditions. I also managed to fit in a few runs around Wallingford after work.Rainy Selfie

A lack of transport meant that I unfortunately didn’t make it to the Wheaton Aston 10k yesterday. I can’t wait to get my own car in 2019. After really enjoying quite literally running into this year, I’m planning on running into 2019.

In standard Emma style, I’ve already set myself some running and fitness goals for 2019. Some are quite challenging, and some scare me a little. I just need my left foot to behave itself as I want to start running regularly again. I’ve got two half marathons in London in March.

I think it’s safe to say that on both a personal level and as a runner, 2018 had its ups and downs. Probably more ups than downs. Although my monthly mileage was reasonably consistent throughout most of the year, you can see where I completely lost my running mojo. This combined with a couple of niggles, meant that I got nowhere near my target of running 1000 km in 2018.

2018 milesI’m hoping that 2019 is slightly less turbulent.

What was the running highlight of 2018 for you? Although the weather was far from ideal, my running highlight was completing the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

What are your running and fitness goals for 2019? I’ve set myself the challenge of not buying any unessential running related purchases. I failed in 2018 but will succeed in 2019!