A rejection, an interview and the start of half marathon training

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I had a quiet but productive weekend of housework, drinking, cooking, studying, eating and interview prep. I also managed to watch some athletics and England lose a couple of cricket matches.

I’ll be completely honest with you; parts of last week were rubbish. On Tuesday I received a rejection for the hydrology job I’d applied for a second time. The moment I spotted the automated email, I knew my application hadn’t been successful.

Thank you for your application to the Technical Specialist position.

I regret to inform you that having carefully reviewed your details, we will not be taking your application any further on this occasion.”

I read the rejection email, cried for a few minutes and then started to feel angry. I then pulled myself together and emailed a polite request for feedback. Although I know that I couldn’t have improved my application and have all the required skills and experience, it will be helpful to know why I was rejected, twice.

Later on the same day I received an email inviting me to an interview later this week. Rather ironic considering I didn’t think I’d get an interview in a million years.

So far my interview prep has comprised of the basics such as researching the company, its operating area and the main pressures on present and future resources. It’s also involved me trying on several pairs of smart trousers, failing to squeeze my fat bum into any of my smart trousers and subsequently having to buy a new pair of smart trousers.

Please let the new trousers arrive before Wednesday!

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My 16-week half marathon training plan started today. Earlier this morning I managed to complete a not exactly challenging 10 minute run. Preparing for the run took a lot longer than the actual run itself. At least my right foot felt reasonably niggle-free before, during and after the run.

I’m debating writing weekly training updates like I did last year. I know that some people find reading training updates boring. Personally, I find reading about other people’s training both interesting and helpful. I suspect that having the option of looking back on what I did 12 months ago will be quite beneficial.

I’d better stop waffling and get back to my interview preparation.

Did you have a good weekend? Although I enjoyed the short heat wave, being able to sleep again at night is brilliant.

Do you find weekly training update blog posts boring? Please be honest, I won’t be offended if you say yes!

Updated running goals and race plans for 2017

At the beginning of the year I set myself some challenging but achievable running goals for 2017. I felt so confident I shared my goals and signed up to Trail Running’s #RUN1000MILES challenge.

Unfortunately, I picked up a running injury towards the middle of January and found myself sitting on the injury bench.

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The injury was so persistent most of the first six months of 2017 were a complete write-off. I stopped running, started stretching, sulked, put on a lot of weight and sulked some more.

My house was spotless.

I forgot about the majority of my running goals.

Now that we are almost half way through the year and *touch wood* my foot injury is under control, I decided to update some of my running goals and race plans.

Run 700 miles Run 400 miles – I’ve just checked my training log on Fetch and discovered I’ve run the not so impressive total of 29 miles in 2017. 29 miles!!! If my maths is correct, I’ve set myself the target of running another 371 miles in six months.  I’d like to think I’ll be able to run approximately 60 miles a month.

Complete 10 parkruns and 10 races Complete 5 parkruns and 5 races – After writing ‘DNS’ next to several races this year, my race calendar is starting to look slightly more respectable. I’ll summarise my race plans later on in this post.

A sub 8 minute mile – I’d like to think that this goal is still achievable.

A sub 25 minute 5k A sub 26 minute 5k – I set my current 5k PB of 26:49 last February. If my foot continues to behave, I’d like to think that at some stage this year I’ll manage to run a sub 26 minute 5k.

A sub 55 minute 10k A sub 60 minute 10k – My original goal was to run a sub 55 minute 10k during the Vitality London 10,000. Now I’d be over the moon with a sub 60 minute 10k!

A sub 2:20 half marathon – The original aim was to run a sub 2:20 half marathon during the Cambridge Half in March. Although Cambridge was a DNS, I’ve decided to keep this goal the same.

Listen to my niggles – At one stage my foot was so painful I had little option but to listen to my niggles. As an injury-prone runner I now realise that listening to my niggles is not enough. I also need to improve my diet and make a lot more effort to follow my strength and conditioning ‘personal action plan’.

Join a new running club – Although I resigned from my last running club at the end of March, my lack of running fitness has made me slightly reluctant to join a new running club. I suspect that I’ll continue as an ‘unattached’ runner for the rest of 2017.

Be slightly more sociable – I still tend to run on my own and I’m still a running recluse. To be honest I enjoy running on my own so much, I can’t see this changing. Although I am a bit of a loner, I have really enjoyed volunteering at a range of local events.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – My foot injury has definitely helped me curb my obsession with buying unessential running gear. Hopefully I will actually achieve this running goal 🙂

My race plans

As I’m the type of person who needs a target race, I’ve entered the Great Birmingham Run in October.

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If my dodgy foot doesn’t cope with the half marathon training plan I’ve put together, I’ve entered the Lichfield 10k as a sort of Plan B race.

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If my foot doesn’t cope with training for a 10k – the way it is feeling right now this is a definite possibility – I’ll have to look at dropping down to even shorter distances.PrintFingers crossed my foot lets me achieve at least a couple of my running goals.

Do you have any target races planned for the second half of 2017?

Did you sign up to Trail Running Magazine’s 1000 mile challenge? If you did and you didn’t receive a Ruff headband let me know and I’ll post you mine.

Rants and raves #15

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this latest random selection of rants and raves while watching the England versus Australia cricket match at Edgbaston. England aren’t playing very well at the moment. I can guarantee that because they are playing cricket in Edgbaston, it will rain in Four Oaks later (Update: It did eventually rain and England won). As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Monday! It will soon be Friday again… I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I’m looking forward to reading loads of race reports

Rave: Running

I’m pleased to report that I’m (just about) still running. My heel is still a little bit troublesome, but thanks to the combination of being sensible and not running too much, and stretching on a regular basis, I’m hopeful that I’ve got my injuries under control. My 16 week half marathon training plan starts on June 26th, and although I’m not 100 per cent confident my heel will cope with a half marathon, I’ve reached the stage I need some structure with my running. The first four weeks of the training plan are relatively easy, with runs lasting between 10 and 30 minutes, so *fingers crossed* I’ll at least make it to this stage of the plan. If I don’t, then it’s back to the drawing board.

Rant: The weather

Last time I raved about the weather. This time I’m going to have a short rant about our so-called ‘summer’. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had enough of the cycle of sun-rain-sun-rain. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve set out on a walk or run in bright sunshine and have ended up getting drenched.RainFor once I was happy to be travelling on a train!

The weather has played havoc with the cricket – yes I know I now sound really middle-aged, and has left my house smelling of damp running gear and soggy trainers. Why are trainers so such a pain in the arse to dry? Don’t get me started on the midges and over evil biting insets that thrive in damp, warm conditions…

Rave: Avon Skin So Soft

I must apologise in advance for what is probably the most random rave ever; Avon Skin So Soft. If, like me, you seem to attract every single midge and random biting insect for miles, then invest in a couple of bottles of Avon Skin So Soft. It really does work.

Rant: Overly protective swans

Last week, as I was early for the train, I decided to take the scenic route to the local train station. My relaxing stroll (in the rain!) was great until I came face to face with Mr and Mrs Swan and their latest clutch of cygnets.SwansCute cygnets, evil parents!

As I power-walked ran through the swan danger zone, I was reminded of just how protective swans are of their young. The hissing was pretty impressive. I wouldn’t have minded, but the adult swans both know me because I’ve been feeding them fresh bread on a weekly basis since January. I guess that everything and everyone is seen as a potential predator. I just hope that this year the cygnets manage to avoid being taken by foxes.

Rave: Nike tights

I’ve decided to continue with my slightly fickle tradition of raving on about a random pair of running tights. Anyway, my latest discovery are these Nike Pro training capris.Nike tightsWorth breaking my running gear buying ban?

If my heel allows me to complete three runs for the next two weeks, I’ll probably break my ban on buying new running gear and treat myself. I’ve shifted so much of my unwanted running gear on eBay recently; I think I deserve a treat.

Rant: Mysterious announcements at train stations

Although I feel reasonable safe when I’m at London Euston, for some reason I feel anything but safe when I’m at Birmingham New Street train station. Probably because I rarely see any police and because the platforms are underground, are dark and cover a huge area. Last week, I was waiting for my train back to Four Oaks when this random announcement started playing on repeat:

 “Attention please, Staff Call 100” 

It’s amazing what you can find on YouTube!

I couldn’t see any station staff or police to talk to, and no one else was moving, so I decided to remain on the platform. The slightly scary announcement stopped playing after five minutes, so I guess it was some sort of false alarm.

Rave: Relive

I’ve now got a bonus rave for you lucky people.Relive

I’ve just registered on Relive and can’t wait to create and share some 3D videos of my more interesting training runs.

Once again if you’ve reached the end of my latest selection of moans and groans, then thank-you!

Have you ever been chased by animals or birds? I can now add angry swans to my list of horses, geese, cows, sheep and pigs.

Do you like to have running goals or are you more a ‘go with the flow’ type of runner? I like to set myself goals, and writing this has reminded me that thanks to my heel injury, I need to update my running goals.

Rants and raves #14

**Disclaimer: I’m sharing my latest random selection of rants and raves after drinking slightly too much Malibu. I’ve been told that I’m far too honest when I’ve had a couple of drinks. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Tuesday! I hope that everyone had a great Bank Holiday weekend. I can’t believe it’s almost June, whatever happened to May?

Rave: Running

As I’ve spent months complaining about my inability to run, I thought I should probably start my latest selection of rants and raves with a rave. My right heel is feeling so much better *touch wood* I can run again. Although I’m still completing the majority of my runs without my Garmin, I’m now able to run three times a week.

Following on from my last rants and raves post I had to fork out £35 to enter the Great Birmingham Run In order to get my £55 Birmingham International Marathon entry fee refunded. I’m quietly confident I’ll be able to complete the half marathon in October. If I’m injured again then at least I’ve ‘only’ wasted £35 on race entry fees and not £55…

Hopefully the local trains will be running slightly earlier on the morning of the race this year.

Rant: Trains

While on the subject of trains, anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware that I tweet about my train related woes on a regular basis. My personal train travel ‘highlights’ so far this year have included being stuck just outside Birmingham International station for two hours without any information, delays and cancellations due to unexploded bombs and overhead line damage, witnessing fights and drug dealing, phone calls lasting two hours and my least favourite; people vomiting all over the place.Train DelayJust a slightly delayed journey back to Birmingham.

At least Virgin trains have really, really effective air conditioning. It’s just a shame their trains make me feel really travel sick because they smell like a sewage treatment works on wheels.

Rave: The weather

As I’m writing this it’s a typical wet and gloomy Bank Holiday Monday morning. I’m hoping that summer 2017 hasn’t already been and gone, but how awesome was the summery weather we had last week? I’ve just checked out the weather forecast for Four Oaks and it looks like we will get to enjoy a combination of light rain and heavy thundery showers.

Bank Holiday weatherTypical Bank Holiday Monday weather!

Fortunately, the weather for the remainder of the week looks slightly more positive.

Rant: My inability to drink in moderation

On Thursday I travelled down to London to meet up with someone I hadn’t seen for ages for “a quick drink” and a bite to eat. Four hours, several pints, half a bottle of red wine an Italian meal (I can’t remember what I ate…) and a shot of Limoncello(?) later I was feeling slightly inebriated. For some reason I decided to take several photos of the local architecture, so much for drunken selfies.

Drunken photosI have zero interest in architecture so have no idea why I took these photos.

My “I’m never drinking again” vow on Friday morning clearly didn’t last very long as I spent Sunday evening working my way through the bottle of Malibu my brother bought me for my birthday. Cheers Paul!

Rave: My bargain MPG leggings

Whenever I’m in Sutton Coldfield, I always end up calling into TK Maxx to check out the Activewear. Although I tend to leave empty-handed, I got my friend to treat me to a pair of these  Mondetta tights for my birthday.

Mondetta tightsUnfortunately it was too wet to get a photo of me posing in my new running tights. 

They are easily the most comfortable pair of running tights I’ve worn.

Rant: My diet

After keeping a detailed food diary for a few weeks, it’s clear that I urgently need to improve my diet. I rarely eat enough portions of fruit and vegetables and I eat far too much junk food. I treated myself to a couple of Renee McGregor’s books last year; it’s about time I actually read them!

Rave: Nuun mixology

I was going to have a rant about the BBQ my new neighbours had on Saturday – smelling the BBQ food was torture – but I decided to include a short bonus rave. My mobile has been playing up so much recently; I’ve transferred all of the photos from my phone onto my computer. In among all the random photos I found this article on Nuun mixology.Nuun Mixology

Apologies for the rubbish quality of the article, I found more information here and here.

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

Did you have an enjoyable Bank Holiday weekend? Hopefully the weather was better than it was here in Sutton Coldfield.

Do you ever run without your GPS? Hopefully I’m not the only ‘naked’ runner out there!

Regaining my running confidence and CocoPro review

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I don’t want to tempt fate, but after more than two months of complete rest, I think that I might finally be able to call myself a runner again.
October runTaken after I’d completed my last long run back in October. It’s good to be running up this hill again.

For once I’ve been sensible with my return to running. Gone are the days I’d happily ignore niggles and run when I was in pain. It has taken a long time and a lot of frustrating running injuries, but I think I’ve finally accepted that I need to listen to my body.Injury ebib

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Like most injury-prone runners I probably delayed heading out for a run for longer than I needed to. I was afraid that the second I started to run, my foot would implode and I’d be back on the injury bench.

Fortunately, my close friend gave me a bit of a talking to and told me to get out the f**king door. I also rediscovered the cheesy but motivational song my coach used to make us listen to before competitions.

“Never surrender to the doubts that cloud your mind
Never retreat from who you are…“

Perhaps I should listen to it before my next job interview…

Since the start of the month I’ve been running without my Garmin. This may sound slightly stupid but I didn’t want the added pressure. Although the majority of my runs have lasted less than 30 minutes, yesterday I decided it was time to find out if my right foot could cope with a slightly longer run.

I’m writing this several hours after I ran for the not so impressive total of 20 minutes before lunch. Although I clearly didn’t drink enough after my run as I’ve got a headache, my heel is 99.9 per cent pain free.

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to walk in the morning!

CocoPro review

Earlier this year CocoPro were recruiting for brand ambassadors.  Although I knew I wasn’t social media savvy enough to be an ambassador, I rather cheekily asked if I could review their products. CocoPro kindly agreed and added me to their mailing list.
CocoPro

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Fast forward a couple of weeks and a random bloke called Paul appeared at my front door holding a small parcel; the postman had delivered my bottles of CocoPro to the wrong address. So thanks Paul for being so honest and for delivering my parcel.

What is CocoPro?

CocoPro is the world’s first pure coconut water with added protein drink and is currently available in two flavours; plain coconut and coconut with pineapple. I was sent one 330ml bottle of each flavour to try.

Coconut flavour

I think coconut water is a bit like Marmite; you either love it or hate it. After a slightly rocky start, I’ve grown to quite like the taste of coconut water.

Although the drink is meant to be consumed after exercise or prolonged activity, I decided to drink my bottle of coconut flavoured CocoPro after I’d been for a short run in humid conditions. I was concerned the added protein would give the drink an artificial taste. Although I was pleased to discover the drink tasted quite natural, it was quite bland and didn’t seem to taste very much of anything.

On the plus side the coconut flavoured CocoPro was easy to drink, and left me feeling hydrated and refreshed. It definitely quenched my post-run thirst and as an added bonus, I didn’t develop my usual post running in humid conditions headache.

May runNot the best photo but I’m in love with these Lululemon shorts.

Coconut with pineapple flavour

I saved my bottle of coconut with pineapple CocoPro as a reward for running up one of my nemesis hills without walking, twice. Quite frankly, I’ll take any running positives I can at the moment.

After personally finding the coconut flavoured CocoPro a little disappointing, I was a tad concerned the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro would also be quite bland. Happily I discovered that this wasn’t the case and I could really taste the pineapple. I wonder if I could use the CocoPro to make a refreshing post workout mocktail.

Would I recommend CocoPro?

Yes, I would definitely recommend the coconut with pineapple flavoured CocoPro, thanks to my local Waitrose I’ve already filled my fridge ready for the warmer weather. Although some might think £2.50 for a bottle of coconut and pineapple water is expensive, I don’t mind paying a little bit extra for a refreshing drink that contains protein electrolytes and coconut.

Do you have a favourite post-workout drink?

Have you ever been too scared to run after being injured?

**Full disclosure: I was sent a couple of bottles of CocoPro for free, I wasn’t asked to write a review. As always all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

A quiet but productive weekend

I hope that everyone had a relaxing weekend. Although the weather was rubbish in Four Oaks on Saturday, the sun finally made a welcome appearance yesterday.

I had a really, really quiet weekend. I think that sometimes it’s important to chill out and do very little. I allowed myself two days off from job hunting, and now feel mentally refreshed and ready to tackle my next load of job applications.

I’m looking after my friend’s house this week so spent most of Saturday morning cleaning two houses. I was left with strict instructions to “eat whatever I want…” so I ate far too much. As an added ‘bonus’ my friend has Sky TV. This meant that I spent several hours on Saturday watching cricket and athletics.

Slightly unrelated, but I love how Nike have kitted out gold medallists from Rio in different gear to the rest of their sponsored athletes. Even the famous Nike swoosh is gold.Diamond League 1

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On Saturday evening I switched on BBC1 ready for my weekly Casualty fix.  I know that I’m sad but I’m easily pleased and love both Casualty and Holby City. As you can imagine I was horrified to discover that Eurovision had replaced Casualty. Devastating! Hopefully Holby City won’t be cancelled on Tuesday evening…

Yesterday morning mum called round for a quick coffee and chat. She is meant to be having her fifth and hopefully final operation on a dodgy vein in her thigh this morning. I just hope that the recent cyber-attack doesn’t result in her operation being cancelled for a third time.

Before lunch I caught up on some slightly overdue blogmin (blog related admin) and worked my way through the ‘birthday cake for one’ my brother had given me earlier in the week.Birthday cake for 1Although it tasted amazing, I’m not sure eating the whole thing in one sitting was sensible. My lack of common sense continued when I decided that the best time to work through my strength and conditioning routine was straight after eating too much cake.

I also included a few of my ‘favourite’ Plantar Fasciitis stretches just to ensure that I made myself feel nauseous.  PF stretches

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After a quick two hour nap I spent an hour gardening and then headed out for a quick walk around the top end of Sutton Park. I had originally planned on going for a run yesterday but my left calf was still feeling sore and I didn’t want to risk yet another injury.

I spent the evening cooking, drafting out a couple of blog posts, packaging up my eBay sales, writing my ‘things to do list’ for the week ahead and relaxing. I definitely feel ready for the week ahead now.

So apologies for sharing this rather dull post. Not all weekends are exciting but then that’s life. I only wrote this post as I think it’s important to highlight the fact it is okay to be boring and to chill out from time to time. It’s all about balance.

Did you have an enjoyable weekend?

Do you like to have the occasional quiet and relaxed weekend?         

Rants and raves #13

**Disclaimer: Now that I’m able to run again, I’m feeling quite chirpy so the raves should outnumber the rants. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! I hope that everyone has had a great week so far. It’s nearly the weekend.

Rave: Lululemon Sole training shorts

A slightly indulgent rave to start with but I have fallen in love with my Lululemon Sole training shorts. Yes they were expensive and yes I could have bought several cheaper pairs of shorts for the same price. They were a birthday present and I do think it’s important to occasionally treat yourself…

The shorts feel really, really comfortable (hopefully I don’t lose too much weight too soon…), have loads of pockets to stash stuff and most importantly don’t ride up or cause the dreaded ‘chub rub’.

Rant: Sudden calf cramps

Picture the scene. You’re lying on the top of your bed, chilling out reading a book and relaxing when suddenly your calf goes into spasm. You know that the second you move the pain will intensify a bazillion times so you are kind of stuck in a painful predicament. It’s definitely a no-win situation.

This was me on Tuesday evening. One minute I was chilling reading the last chapter of Keep on Running the next I was rolling around clutching my left calf. I guess it was some sort of karma for me being lazy and lying on my bed reading rather than doing the washing-up.

My calf still feels a bit bruised now.

Rave: Chocolate éclairs

Now that I’m able to run again I’m trying to eat less rubbish and more ‘real’ food, I’m also trying to lose weight. Unfortunately, I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for chocolate éclairs.EclairI’ve tried a few different éclairs, but my favourites are the £1.00 éclairs from the fresh cake/bakery section in Sainsbury’s. Luckily for my waist and wallet they have usually sold out by the time I get to Sainsbury’s, but the other day I managed to snaffle the last one.

Rant: Noisy birds

I like the lighter mornings and the warmer weather. I dislike the birds – I think they are starlings but I’m not sure – currently living directly above my bedroom window. The baby starlings are seriously noisy and start demanding food the second it gets light.  I actually feel sorry for the parents, talk about constant pressure.

To add insult to injury, the starlings somehow managed to activate my house alarm at 05:30 on Sunday. I rarely get to sleep before midnight, so these early morning mini feathered alarm clocks are making me even crankier than usual.

Maybe I should borrow one of my mother’s cats…

Rave: Hydrologists cartoon thingy

When people discover that I’m a hydrologist, they usually know that my research has something to do with water, but don’t understand what I actually do. Neither do I 😉

One of my hydrologist friends sent me this hydrologists cartoon thingy. The hammock picture needs swapping to a picture of a riverside pub, the rest is pretty accurate.HydrologistMy research is actually quite tedious and involves a lot of reading, a lot of number crunching and some drought modelling. I very rarely get to go near an actual river.

Rant: DNS’ing races

I know that I’ve had this one before but the DNS’ing of races continues. I missed the Market Drayton 10k on Sunday and suspect that the Vitality London 10,000 will be another DNS.DNSingHopefully *fingers crossed* Great Run will allow me to ‘downgrade’ from the Birmingham International Marathon to the Great Birmingham Run.

[Update]: this seems a slightly long-winded way of doing things…

“Yes you can change to another distance if you wish, all you need to do is register and pay to secure your place in that new preferred event and let us know when you have done so. We can then withdraw/refund your original entry…”

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

How much sleep do you get during the week? I’m thinking that my 5-6 hours a night isn’t enough.

If you were given £100 would you spend it on a couple of items from Lululemon, or on loads of bits and pieces from somewhere like TK Maxx? I think I’d spend my £100 on a couple of more expensive pairs of shorts.