Rants and raves #22

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after spending the majority of the day inside. I was aiming to complete a 60 minute run this weekend. After I nearly broke my neck walking the short distance to the local shops, I decided that attempting to run would be stupid. As always all moans and groans and rants and raves and represent my own views. Other far superior and less opinionated running blogs are available.

Rave: The support of other bloggers

Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read and to comment on my Feeling a bit lost and alone post.  Your support and comments really did help. I’m trying to be more positive and to focus on the present and the future more. I can’t change the past, but I can learn from my mistakes. I’m finding the festive period quite challenging, but hopefully this time next year, I’ll feel confident enough to attend a couple of Christmas parties.

Rant: Flexitol blogger perks

Back in 2015, I wrote a review for Flexitol. This review has featured on their blogger sign up page for more than two years. The same page promotes quite a few perks for bloggers; one perk is sponsorship from Flexitol for your next sporting event/challenge.

I recently emailed Flexitol to ask about sponsorship for my half marathon in March. After a slight delay, I was informed that Flexitol are “not currently running a blogger campaign that would offer sponsorship of an event, or the opportunity to report from an event for Flexitol…”

I was offered more products to review or to hold competitions with my followers. After questioning the out of date information on the blogger sign up page, I was told that Flexitol would be reviewing site content in 2018.

I wasn’t paid to write a review for Flexitol and only wanted them to stick £10 on my fundraising page. The whole saga has left me feeling pretty frustrated.

Rave: Myprotein Fitness Awards

Although my blog wasn’t nominated in the Running Awards, it has been shortlisted in the ‘fitness’ category of the Myprotein Fitness Blogger Awards 2017.

Fitness-Award-2017-Shortlisted-UK

I have no idea why my running blog has been shortlisted in the fitness category, but I’m quite pleased that my running waffle is starting to receive some recognition. It’s a shame I’ll be rebranding my blog at some point in 2018.

Rant: Snow (and ice)

For once the weather forecast was correct, and it snowed all day in Four Oaks on Sunday. Yesterday, temperatures remained well below freezing all day.

-12

Unfortunately, the snow has now turned into ice, and the pavements around here are pretty dodgy. I’ve been obsessively checking the weather forecast, and I don’t think I’ll be able to run outside until Thursday #thirdworldproblems

This guide to walking safely on ice made me smile.Walking on ice

[Source]

Having long legs means that I’m definitely more Bambi than penguin when it comes to walking on ice. I only fell on my arse once yesterday so I’m definitely getting better.

Rave: The generosity of people I’ve never met

After a slightly steady start, my fundraising is now going so well, I actually feel guilty that I’m ‘only’ running a half marathon. The majority of people who have sponsored me are runners I’ve never actually met in ‘real life’. I’ve increased my target and will continue to irritate my friends and family on Farcebook. My mentor is going to share my fundraising page with his academic contacts, so I’m reasonably confident I’ll raise quite a bit for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.

I wish I was feeling equally as confident about my half marathon training.

Rant: Active.com

Quite a few people who have entered races via Active.com have had fraudulent activity on their credit/debit cards. When I highlighted the issue to an event organiser, they weren’t interested. So I’ve you’ve entered any races recently via the Active.com site, keep an eye on your bank account.

Have you ever had a negative experience as a blogger?

Did you have a lot of snow where you live?

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Christmas gifts for runners

Last year, my rather unsubtle Christmas gifts for runners (named Emma) post was reasonably successful. While my family quite sensibly ignored the more expensive items in my guide, on Christmas Day I found myself unwrapping parcels containing a Lululemon running skirt, Shock Absorber sports bra and some running socks.

It’s now December and Christmas is rapidly approaching. Although I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my family I can’t afford Christmas this year, I keep getting asked “what would you like for Christmas Emma?”. As a result, I’ve decided to produce an updated Christmas gifts for runners guide.

Once again, I’ve included photos and links to each item to hopefully save my family time when they are shopping online.

Christmas 2017

Donation to my fundraising page My close friend Geoff was recently diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. After a discussion with my him, I decided to use my place in the Cambridge Half to raise money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust, the first registered charity in the UK dedicated solely to the support of people affected by thyroid cancer. At the moment my fundraising isn’t going very well. I’m hoping that my family and friends will start to feel more generous as Christmas approaches.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 trainers I’m aware that these were included in my gift guide last year. However, I genuinely believe that a runner can never have too many pairs of trainers. Although these trainers are expensive, they are cheaper than the physio sessions I needed last time I attempted to run in a different brand and model of trainers.

HydrateM8 water bottle I need to drink less Diet Coke and more still water. I’m hoping that a motivational HydrateM8 water bottle will help me to ditch the fizzy drinks and to embrace the clear stuff.

Entry into the Vitality London 10,000 I’ve included this rather random gift suggestion again because an entry into one of my favourite races would make an amazing Christmas present. I’m pretty certain that most runners would love to receive a race entry as a Christmas gift.

Garmin Forerunner 235 Unfortunately, my second-hand Garmin Forerunner 220 has been a little temperamental for quite some time and will probably need replacing within the next six months. A runner can always dream!

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones I’ve done my research, i.e. I’ve read a couple of blogs and online reviews, and the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones sound pretty awesome. When I (hopefully) move to Wallingford next month, I’ll be doing most of my training on a ‘dreadmill’ and will, therefore, need to upgrade my rubbish freebie phone headphones. If you do decide to treat me to a pair, blue is my favourite colour.

Shock Absorber Ultimate Run sports bra If anyone in my family knows what happened to the Ultimate Run sports bra I unwrapped on Christmas Day last year please let me know! My boobs have now had enough of the worn-out sports bras I bought from H&M over four years ago.

Bespoke eatnaturally nutrition plan While I’ve really enjoyed attempting to follow and recreate several of the recipes on the Fitnaturally website, I know that I’d benefit from a bespoke nutrition plan. You keep telling me that I’m getting a little “podgy” so here’s your chance to help me sort my diet out.

Jasyoga Hit Reset book I’ve been subscribing to Jasyoga for quite some time now and would love a copy of Erin Taylor’s Hit Reset book. If you don’t manage to track down a copy of the Hit Reset book don’t worry, Erin has written a second book called Work IN which is available for pre-order now.

The Running School biomechanical running analysis And finally, if you are searching for the perfect gift for an injury-prone runner, I’ve got a great suggestion; a biomechanical running analysis. I’ve included a link to The Running School; however, loads of places seem to offer a similar running analysis.

Have you asked for any running related gifts for Christmas this year?

Great Birmingham Run training week 16

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

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

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

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

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

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable

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

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

Thursday – Rest

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

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

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

Friday – Rest

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

Saturday – Rest

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

Sunday – Great Birmingham Run

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

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

Training totals:

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

Races/time trials:

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

Final niggleometer:

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 12

Once again, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was somehow managing to run for 85 minutes yesterday.Collage 29I should have completed four runs during week 12 of my half marathon training; a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a 55 minute steady paced run on Wednesday, another 20 minute jog on Saturday and an 85 minute long run on Sunday. Unfortunately, a very niggly right knee meant that I only completed two out of four training runs. At least I managed to run for 85 minutes yesterday.

So what went wrong?

Monday – Rest

I was meant to start the week with a 20 minute recovery run. My right knee felt quite niggly after the Lichfield 10k so I decided to rest. Walking the short distance to post my latest batch of eBay sales was so painful, it was clear I’d definitely made the right decision. At least the walk helped to ease some of the stiffness in my legs.

Tuesday – Rest

The highlight of my rest day on Tuesday was completing a 35-page long job application form. I don’t think I’ve ever answered so many random questions. As a (sort of) reward for resting and not running – a few years ago I would have definitely attempted to run with an injury – I opened my Running Heroes prize…Collage 30As the internet doesn’t need to see a photo of my rather flabby stomach, I won’t be sharing a photo of me modelling the Ted Baker sports bra and cropped leggings I won. Seriously though. £79 for a pair of cropped leggings!? At least I’ve now got a couple of Christmas presents sorted.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 55 minute steady run but I didn’t. When my alarm woke me at 05:00 I noticed two things; my right knee still wasn’t feeling great and it was so windy outside there were wheelie bin related hazards everywhere. As I didn’t want to damage my right knee further or get taken out by an out of control wheelie bin, I turned my alarm off and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The rest of Wednesday was productive but incredibly dull. I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Thursday – Rest

Another rest day! I thought about completing a 55 minute run but decided not to as my right knee was unfortunately still feeling sore. After spending the morning working out how I’m going to get to my interview next week – I can’t wait to start driving again – I walked the short distance to the local hair salon. This probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but I’m not a huge fan of having my hair cut. I’m a wet my hair, shampoo, rinse and go type of person. I rarely use conditioner and don’t own a hairdryer. I left the salon with a cold head and hair that is slightly too short to tie back. My hair grows so quickly, I’m not concerned about it flapping around and irritating me during next month’s half marathon, yet.

Friday – Rest

Unfortunately, even after four rest days my right knee still felt quite sore. For the first time, I started to doubt that I’d make it to the start line of the Great Birmingham Run next month. I spent the majority of the morning sitting at my computer with an ice pack balanced on my right knee. In the afternoon I dug out my foam roller and spent ages working through some of the foam rolling exercises and knee strengthening exercises on Kinetic Revolution. Although my right knee felt a million times better, I was reminded that I am about as flexible as a stiff board.

On Friday night I did something I haven’t been brave enough to do for ages. I squeezed myself into a smart dress, put on some makeup and met up with some friends at the train station. We then headed into Birmingham for a bite to eat in Adam’s – if you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in Birmingham then this is the best restaurant, followed by a few drinks in Grand Central. It was a positive end to a difficult week.

Saturday – 20 mins very easy jog

Although I know I completed my 20 minute very easy jog, I’m not 100 per cent sure how far I ran as my Garmin ‘died’ during the run. I completed my usual two mile loop, so suspect that I ran for more than 20 minutes. At least my right knee was reasonably niggle free. When I got home I quickly realised that I hadn’t charged my Garmin since the Lichfield 10k last Sunday so left it charging ready for my longer run. The rest of my Saturday was pretty mundane. I spent four hours preparing for my interview on Tuesday and then decided it was time for a couple of Jasyoga 5-minute reset videos. I tried to watch some of the T20 cricket, but had to abandon the TV when the vision in my left eye started to go strange. As I only usually have issues with my vision when I’m tired, I decided to head straight to bed. At least I got loads of sleep before my longer run.

Sunday – 85 mins easy pace

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I spent about 10 minutes debating the pros and cons of running first thing on a Sunday morning. I decided that the pros outweighed the cons and decided to drag myself out of bed. I got dressed, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of water, did some stretches, headed out the door into the cold – it was really cold – and waited for my Garmin to locate some satellites. Although it felt like my Garmin took forever to decided to function as a GPS, I was soon running and playing dodge the abandoned wheelie bins and bags of rubbish.

What followed was the most enjoyable 85 minutes of running I’ve experienced in a long time. My right knee behaved itself. My right heel was pain free and for once I’d planned my route to perfection. I managed to run up every hill I encountered and I conquered one of my nemesis hills. For once, I reached the end of my run and felt that I could have carried on running. The training sessions I’d missed earlier in the week had clearly not impacted my fitness levels. I got home, knocked back a couple of glasses of orange nuun, had a shower and then went back to bed for a couple of hours.Collage 31So that’s week 12 of my Great Birmingham Run training not exactly completed. Although my right knee prevented me from heading out on a couple of training runs, I’m over the moon I’ve navigated my way through 75 per cent of my selected training plan. There are four weeks to go and two of those weeks are taper weeks. I’ve got everything crossed my right knee doesn’t implode suddenly when I’m out running.

Next week’s schedule (hopefully!) contains four training runs and looks pretty challenging. Later on today, I’ve got to somehow complete a 20 minute recovery run. I’ve then got to run for 60 minutes on Wednesday and for 45 minutes on Friday. And if my right knee is still functioning, I’ll be pounding the pavements of Four Oaks for 100 minutes on Sunday morning. Although I know I’m capable of running for 100 minutes, I’m not sure how my fragile knee will react.

Training totals

  • Runs: 38
  • Time 17 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 94.29 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

Niggleometer

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 11

As always, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was the Lichfield 10k. After running on my own for several weeks, running with others was actually far, far more enjoyable than I thought it would be.Collage 27Week 11 of my half marathon training – described as a key week with a time trial – saw me struggle to complete a 20 minute ‘easy jog’ on Monday, swap my Wednesday and Thursday sessions because I felt I needed an extra rest day – my approach worked as I had an awesome 40 minute run on Thursday morning, a 20 minute jog on Saturday and the Lichfield 10k yesterday.

Last year I aimed for and achieved a sub-60 minute time at the Lichfield 10k. Yesterday I was happy just to complete the race without needing too many walking breaks. So how did my fragile left foot and dodgy right knee cope during the eleventh week of half marathon training?

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, I reached out, turned it off and woke up three hours later. I clearly needed my beauty sleep. After spending almost an hour faffing about and waiting for the school traffic to die down, I eventually headed out on my run at 09:30. It wasn’t the most enjoyable run as I was wearing too many layers and felt far too warm. I had to dodge people walking dogs, people pushing pushchairs, people running (a lot faster than I was) for the bus and cars blocking the pavement. To make matters worse, I had to stop running twice; once to give way to someone reversing off their drive and once to retie one of my shoelaces. The run left me feeling more than a little mardy.

I spent the rest of the day job hunting and writing. I applied for a very temporary job at my local M&S, passed the first online assessment and booked an interview slot for the following morning. After spending the last two Christmas periods working in the same store, I was fairly confident I’d be offered one of the temporary roles.

Tuesday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day as my legs felt quite sore after my slightly longer run on Sunday and failed recovery run. In the morning I travelled the short distance by train to Sutton Coldfield, had the most informal interview ever and was told to wait for a phone call. I also managed to overcome my slightly irrational phobia of hair salons and booked myself in for a seriously overdue hair cut. I spent the afternoon working on some ideas for an academic paper and writing a product review. I also treated my calf muscles to another session with my foam roller. I’ve decided that I’m so useless at inflicting pain on myself, I would probably benefit from a sports massage.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 40 minute run, but for some reason, when my alarm woke me at 05:00, I just didn’t feel like running. Fortunately, the rest of the day was far more positive and productive. I discovered that I’d got an interview for a hydrology job I’d applied for at the end of August. I hadn’t expected to get an interview so the email was a very pleasant surprise. I vacuumed the house, mopped the kitchen floor, did two loads of washing, listed more rubbish on eBay and completed a couple of job applications. As I was determined to run the following morning I made sure I was in bed before midnight. It’s just a shame I woke up at 02:00 and found it virtually impossible to get back to sleep.

Thursday – 40 mins fast with warm-up and cool-down

I decided to approach my run on Thursday the same way I’ve approached all of my training sessions. After running at a reasonably steady pace for the first ten minutes, I attempted to increase my pace a little. I’ve clearly lost the ability to run at anything faster than 10:00 min/miles as I struggled to progress from first into second gear. I think I only managed to increase my pace to avoid smelly rubbish bins and to cross the main road. I did, however, remember to cool-down so the run wasn’t a complete failure.Collage 28After spending the rest of the day attempting to answer technical competency questions and waiting for a phone call from M&S that never materialised, I headed across Birmingham to the university to collect some books. I may have failed as an academic, but I’m determined to complete the paper I’ve been working on for almost two years.

Friday – Rest

Friday was a reasonably productive but incredibly restful rest day. I only left the house once to pick up a takeaway from the local Chinese – the takeaway was virtually inedible and went straight through me. So much for a Friday evening treat, perhaps my body is now repelling unhealthy food.

Saturday – 20 mins jog

When I looked through the training plan at the start of the week, I was a little surprised to see it included a 20 minute run the day before a 10k time trial. I’m pretty sure you can work out what happened. I completed a 20 minute run rather than a 20 minute jog. So much for taking it easy the day before a 10k race.

Luckily the rest of the day was far more relaxing. I received an email from M&S. Although I’d passed all the assessments, there were no suitable vacancies for me. The email came as a bit of a surprise after my meeting on Tuesday.

In the evening I met up with some friends for a couple of pints. As I was aware I had a 10k race to run the following morning, I made sure that I actually limited myself to two pints. When I got some I spent ages looking for four safety pins, double checked the train times, got my running kit ready and went to bed at a sensible time.

Sunday – 10k race or time-trial

Like last year, I was originally meant to complete an 85 minute longer run at an ‘easy’ pace in week 11. However, after researching local races, I decided to take part in the Lichfield 10k. As I’ll be writing a review of the Lichfield 10k in a separate post, I won’t write an essay here. In summary, it was cool and very windy, I ran with the lady I met last year for the first four miles and then told her to run on ahead, she smashed her PB. The last two miles were a struggle and I needed to stop a couple of times to stretch out my right knee. I need to check out some old race results, but I think I recorded my slowest 10k time ever.

So that’s week 11 of my training for the Great Birmingham Run more or less successfully completed. I got my pacing completely wrong on Monday, couldn’t be bothered to run on Wednesday so gave myself a rest day, had a great run on Thursday, a mediocre run on Saturday and somehow managed to complete the Lichfield 10k without my right knee falling off. At the moment I’m finding it a little difficult to comprehend that in five weeks time I’ll *fingers crossed* have completed a half marathon.

The training schedule for week 12 contains four runs and looks quite challenging. I’ve got to drag myself out for a 20 minute recovery jog at some stage today; hopefully my legs will feel slightly more awake this evening. I’ve got to complete a 55 minute ‘steady run’ on Wednesday morning, another 20 minute run on Saturday and then a longer 85 minute run on Sunday. After my recent issues with pacing and route planning, I need to map out the perfect (i.e. as flat as possible!) route for Sunday. I have a feeling that the rest days on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will feature foam rolling and icing sessions.

Training totals

  • Runs: 36
  • Time: 15 hours 15 mins
  • Distance: 84.77 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 5/10
  • Right knee: 9/10
  • Left foot: 4/10

Great Birmingham Run training week 10

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I can’t believe the summer holidays have finished, the year is flying by. Yesterday’s 75 minute run reminded me that I need to trust the training plan. It also left me feeling exhausted for most of the day. I’ve no idea how I managed to run for 20 minutes earlier this morning.Collage 24Following a much needed rest day on Bank Holiday Monday, week 10 of my half marathon training plan saw me complete a 35 minute run on Tuesday, a 45 minute run on Thursday and a 20 minute ‘recovery jog’ on Friday. The tenth week ended with a more challenging 75 minute run/walk yesterday. Although the training plan gave me the option of incorporating walking breaks into my longer run, when I headed out on my run, I was determined to run continuously for 75 minutes. So how did my fragile feet cope during the tenth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Monday was a rest day and also a sunny Bank Holiday. I decided to make the most of the sunshine and headed to Sutton Park for a long walk. Midway through my walk I stumbled across an ice cream van. Luckily I’d got enough money to treat myself to an extra large ‘99’ ice cream. When I returned from the park I reintroduced my calf muscles to my extra torturous foam roller. It wasn’t the most enjoyable experience as I’m not very good at inflicting pain on myself.

Tuesday – 35 mins easy

What happened to the light mornings? When my alarm woke me at 05:30 it was pitch black outside. I got changed into some of my more hideous but bright running gear, went to the loo, drank a couple of glasses of water, completed a selection of PF exercises and stretches and headed out into the darkness. It took me about 10 minutes to warm up and once my legs had woken up, the rest of the run felt relatively easy.Collage 25I spent the morning catching up on my emails and then headed down to London for a meeting with a careers advisor. As I was paranoid about signal failures and train delays, I arrived in London two hours before my meeting. I did what all sensible people do and headed to the Euston Tap for a quick pint. Half way through my pint I discovered that my meeting had been cancelled. After wasting a bit of time people watching, I headed to Marylebone where I’d arranged to meet my friend. We had a couple of drinks and then walked the short distance to Carluccio’s. I decided to try something new so I ordered prawn marinara to start followed by spinach and ricotta ravioli and chocolate and rum fudge cake. The fudge cake was sickly but amazing. If you ever find yourself in Carluccio’s treat yourself!

Wednesday – Rest

It’s probably a good job I didn’t have to run on Wednesday as I found the train journey back up to Birmingham rather challenging. The rest of the day was incredibly restful. I felt so fragile I couldn’t even face my foam roller.

Thursday – 45 mins brisk pace

Once again I found myself starting my run in the dark. After frightening another dog walker, I think it might be time for me to buy a head torch. Although I was meant to run at a ‘brisk pace’ I decided to run at a sensible pace for the first 20 minutes, before speeding up for the final 25 minutes. Well that was the theory, the reality was slightly different. I’ve turned into such a pavement plodder, I was unable to increase my pace and felt rather frustrated when I finished running.

Friday – 20 mins recovery jog

I decided to treat myself to a lie in, so after spending the morning job hunting and analysing river flow data, I convinced my friend to give me a lift to Four Oaks Estate.Collage 26The run was meant to be a ‘recovery jog’ but I felt so good, I set out at quite a fast (for me) pace. Rather predictably, when I encountered a steepish hill I almost slowed to a walk. After getting used to running first thing in the morning, I felt far too warm throughout the second half of my failed attempt at a ‘recovery jog’. It took a couple of hours for my face to return to its normal colour after my run.

Saturday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day, as my fragile foot felt quite niggly after my failed recovery jog. As an added bonus, my right knee felt so sore I was not very confident I’d be able to run the following day. I spent the morning reading through an unpublished academic manuscript and the afternoon listing yet more unwanted junk on eBay. I spent the evening blogging, watching TV with an ice pack balanced on my knee, eating and stressing about my knee. Hopefully everyone else had a more enjoyable Saturday night.

Sunday – 75 mins jog/walk

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 – I’d somehow managed to set the time wrong – I decided I needed more sleep so reset my alarm for 05:30. I should have got up as I proceeded to lie in bed listening to the wind outside. At least it wasn’t raining. I got dressed, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of orange nuun, did some PF stretches, headed out the door and started to run. My right knee was completely pain free, the human body is strange at times.

Last week the first 35 minutes of my longer run felt easy. This week, I felt like I spent the first 45 minutes of my run running directly into the wind. The wind was relentless and at one stage I felt like I was barely making any forward progress. Once I finally escaped the wind I started to enjoy my run and attempted to increase my pace. Unfortunately, I’d somehow managed to completely mess-up my route planning again as I reached the bottom of my road after I’d been running for 65 minutes. Not ideal. I completed the 75 minutes, got very cold walking home, had a hot shower and then went back to bed for a nap.

So that’s week ten of my half marathon training completed. There are now only another six weeks of training to go. I can almost smell the aroma of Deep Heat on the start line. Although, my complete inability to pace myself, meant that I made some of the training runs slightly more challenging than they should have been, I managed to avoid the walk of shame.

Next week’s training schedule comprises of four runs and once again looks quite challenging. I’ve already dragged my tired legs around my favourite 20 minute loop; fortunately tomorrow (Tuesday) is a rest day. Wednesday’s run looks a little confusing as is described as ’40 minutes fast with warm-up and cool-down’ – I think I’m going to aim to run at a slightly faster, uncomfortable pace for 40 minutes. Thursday and Friday are both rest days and on Saturday I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog. I was originally meant to complete an 85 minute easy paced run on Sunday. Like last year, I will be completing a 10k time trial at the Lichfield 10k. I’d rather run a time trial with other people, so swapping the training sessions around makes sense. Although I know I’m not in sub-60 minute 10k shape, I’m aiming to run with the 60 minute pacer for as long as I can.

Training totals

  • Runs: 33
  • Time: 13 hours 55 mins
  • Distance: 77.18 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: TBC during week 11 or 12

Niggleometer

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 8

Once again, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I can’t believe I’ve successfully completed the first half of my beginners’ half marathon training plan. The second half of the plan looks slightly more challenging; it will be interesting to see if my injury-prone feet cope with the increased mileage.Collage 18Week 8 of my beginners half marathon training plan was described as a taper week – always a bonus – ending with a 5k time-trial i.e. parkrun. My training during week eight comprised of a 20 minute run on Wednesday, a 10 minute run on both Thursday and Sunday and a 5k time trial on Saturday. I switched around Saturday and Sunday’s training runs so that I could attend my nearest parkrun for the first time in 12 months. So how did my fragile feet cope with the eighth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Week 8 started with a rest day. I spent the morning completing yet another application form and then travelled into Birmingham to meet up with my music teacher at New Street station. Well that was the original plan. Unfortunately, another signal failure at London Euston – seriously Euston, please sort your useless signals out – meant that my music teacher’s train was cancelled and I had an hour wait for my train to London. Rather than loitering around the station, I walked to Up & Running and grabbed a copy of RunABC Midlands and bought some energy gels. The train journey down to London was awesome, as I got to chat about running for an hour with an ex Olympic long distance runner.Collage 19I arrived at Euston on time – train miracles can happen – and walked across to Regent Street for my meeting with my mentor. Seriously, how chaotic is Regent Street in the summer? I couldn’t imagine having to work there. A couple of hours later I found myself back in Hardy’s. The menu wasn’t as inspiring as usual and they had run out of Shepherd’s Pie, my alternative to fish and chips. In the end I ordered the Farmhouse Terrine to start, followed by fish and chips. There’s always next time!

Tuesday – Rest

The journey from London to Birmingham was uneventful. As an added bonus, the train to Four Oaks was so full of police, even the local troublemakers behaved. I should have completed a 20 minute run as soon as I got home, but I was hungry and couldn’t be bothered.

Wednesday – 20 mins steady

I must have subconsciously felt slightly guilty about skipping my run as I woke up well before my alarm. I contemplated getting my run done and dusted at 04:00, saw how dark it was and decided to wait until 05:30. Event though I felt tired I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I ‘enjoyed’ an extra long stretching and Pilates session. When I headed out the door at 05:30 I was well warmed-up and ready to run. The run itself was uneventful until I turned a corner and almost ran into an elderly man walking a dog. I’m not sure who was more startled, but the dog definitely made the most noise. I think I must have experienced some sort of adrenaline rush as I ran up one of my nemesis hills without stopping. Luckily I made it home without frightening any more dogs.

The rest of the day was so uneventful, I’ve decided not to bore you with the details.

Thursday – 10 mins steady

After my early (for me) start the previous day, I didn’t wake up until 07:00 and wasted the best part of the morning. I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, worked through some of my PF stretches and exercises, had a productive loo visit, pulled on my trainers and headed out the door. My Garmin took ages to pick up some signal and then went into standby mode. Fortunately, it was a case of second time lucky and my Garmin decided to function as a GPS. I set out at a sensible pace and found the 10 minute run so easy, I found myself questioning the point of running for ‘only’ 10 minutes.

Friday – Rest

I spent most of the morning helping my friend take a couple of loads of garden waste to the local tip. He takes me to all the best locations. Once I’d recovered from the excitement, I caught up on my emails and printed out the job descriptions of a couple of hydrologist jobs I’d spotted. One asked for a basic CV so I spent an hour tweaking my CV and then hit ‘submit’ before I could change my mind. The second application took me over five hours to complete. At least I had a reasonably productive day.

Saturday – 5k race or time-trial

After several days of uncertainty, my friend finally agreed to drive me across to my local parkrun at 08:30 on Saturday morning. Slightly stressful. I think we arrived at Walsall Arboretum with about 5 minutes to spare, not ideal when I need to warm-up before I run. It took less than a minute for me to realise that I had started too far back and I was stuck in first gear. I’d forgotten how to increase my pace, so much for a time trial. After three enjoyable laps around Hatherton Lake, I eventually crossed the line in 32:49. I was disappointed I’d missed out on a sub-30 minute time by almost three minutes. At least I ran jogged the whole 5k.Collage 20After spending the afternoon tackling the mountain of washing that had accumulated during the week, I found myself travelling across Birmingham to the university for a violin lesson. Thrilling! I *may* have treated myself to a pint in one of my local pubs on the way home.

Sunday – 10 mins very easy jog

The sun woke me at 06:30 – so much for a sneaky Sunday morning lie in – so I decided to get my 10 minute run done early. As soon as I got up, I discovered that both my right heel and knee were feeling a little sore. I decided to head out on my run to see how my heel and knee reacted. Fortunately, the pain more or less went away after I’d completed some stretches, so I was able to complete my 10 minute run.

So that’s week eight of my half marathon training plan completed, only another eight weeks so go. I think my take-home message was that I’ve completely lost the ability to run at anything other than a ‘steady’ pace. I need to remind myself that being able to run is a bonus. I also need to stop comparing this year’s training with what I was doing last year.

Next week’s training schedule consists of four runs and is described as the second ‘building phase’. I’m not sure what I’m meant to be ‘building’ towards, but I feel slightly apprehensive. I’ve got to complete a 10 minute run on Monday, 35 minute runs on Wednesday and Friday and a 65 minute ‘long’ run on Sunday. I don’t think I’ve run for more than an hour since last year’s Great Birmingham Run. I’m looking forward to the challenge.

Training totals

  • Runs: 25
  • Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
  • Distance: 48.03 miles

 Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12

 Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

A slightly random question, but who is your favourite Olympian? Mine is probably Nick Skelton.  

Is your local parkrun getting busier and busier? Walsall parkrun felt so crowded on Saturday, I’m not sure that the course could cope with too many more runners.