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the morning sorting through several boxes of junk and shredding loads of old paperwork and the afternoon reviewing an unpublished academic manuscript.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
Advertisements

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.

Rants and raves #18

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

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

Rave: The Big Sleuth

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

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

Rant: The weather

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

Rave: My right heel

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

Rant: My left foot

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

Rave: The running community

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

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

Rant: Sainsbury’s Spaghetti Bolognese

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

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

Rave: Hero the Hedgehog

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

Rant: Manspreading on public transport

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

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

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

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 7

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

Monday – 20 mins steady

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – Rest

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

Thursday – 30 mins steady

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

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

Friday – 10 mins easy jog

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

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

Saturday – Rest

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

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

Sunday – 50-55 mins continuous run

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

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

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

Training totals

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

Niggleometer

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

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

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