Rants and raves #25

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

Rave: Running in Wallingford

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

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

Rant: Public transport, again

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

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

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


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

Rave: parkrun  

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

Rant: Random weather

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

Rave: The online running community

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

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

Rant: Office heroes

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


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

Rave: Learning how to say no

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

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

Have you ever fallen out of love with parkrun?

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


Cambridge Half Marathon training week 12

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. My weekend unfortunately didn’t exactly go to plan…Collage 34The final week of my 12 week ‘intermediate’ half marathon training plan contained three training runs, three rest days and ended with the Cambridge Half. Thanks to the weather and my fear of running in icy conditions, all of the runs were replaced with rest days. I was definitely very well rested before Cambridge.

So how did I get on during the final week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

A lack of direct trains between Birmingham and Oxford on Sunday meant that I booked Monday off as annual leave. Although I enjoyed the longer weekend, I’d rather use my annual leave for ‘proper’ holidays. Rather predictably, I wasted far too much time on Monday checking the trains and the weather forecast for the week ahead. I spent the morning getting everything organised for my trip to Cambridge.

After some world-class procrastinating and weather watching, I spent a couple of hours putting together a presentation on some of the outcomes of my doctoral research. Not the best use of annual leave. I arrived back in Wallingford at 21:00 and discovered that one of my housemates had left the front door wide open. Not ideal as the house was freezing. I got ready for my meeting in London and headed to bed in an attempt to get warm.

Tuesday – Rest

Following a slightly delayed arrival into London, I arrived at my meeting near Westminster with about a minute to spare. Perfect timing!? After a lot of debate about the snow and potential train cancellations, the meeting finished an hour early and we made our way to the nearest tube station. One minute the sky was blue, the next minute it went dark and we found ourselves walking in a blizzard. I said goodbye to my colleagues and 15 minutes later found myself walking along a rather slippery Regent Street – trainers weren’t the best choice of footwear – to meet up with Geoff.Collage 35I tracked down Geoff and we headed into Marylebone for a late lunch. After a bit of debate about what we actually wanted to eat, we ended up in Honest Burger near Baker Street. My free-range chicken burger was okay but a little dry and tasteless. Next time I’ll suggest we opt for pizzas rather than so-called fancy burgers.

I had a somewhat ‘eventful’ journey from London to Wallingford. Thanks to tube, train and bus delays, I didn’t get back to Wallingford until quite late. I took one look at the icy pavements and decided not to attempt my 40 minute easy run. This set the tone for the remainder of the week.

Wednesday – Rest

Thanks to the combination of dazzling sunshine, icy pavements and my fear of slipping over, my walk into work took ages. Once again, I was reminded that having long legs and no coordination is never a winning combination. Although I’m enjoying my job, the highlight of the day was the seriously impressive BLT sandwich I had for lunch. Just thinking about it is making my mouth water. Following my slightly hazardous walk into the office, I was relieved when I discovered that the pavements were more or less completely clear on the walk home. I thought about meeting up with Run Wallingford to do my 30 minute tempo run, but decided not to risk it.

Thursday – Rest

We had some snow overnight, but not enough to prevent me from walking into the office. I was the only person in from my team; I appreciated the peace and quiet. I decided to escape an hour earlier than usual as I wanted to pop into the sports shop in Wallingford to buy myself a Run Wallingford t-shirt. I made the right decision as the conditions worsened during my walk, one minute the roads were clear, the next they were completely grid-locked and nothing was moving. I bought my t-shirt – definitely an essential running related purchase – and managed to make it back to my room without falling over.Collage 36I was packing my bags and making sure I’d got everything I needed for the weekend when I received a text alert; all offices would be closed on Friday. I looked outside and had a bit of a shock, I hadn’t realised how bad the snow had got. I realised I probably wouldn’t be able to travel home, and that the Cambridge Half would take place without me. I’m ashamed to admit that I shed a few tears of frustration.

Friday – Rest

Thanks to #StormEmma – the irony – and the snowy conditions, my final training run of week 12 didn’t happen. As the office was closed and the weather was meant to deteriorate during the day, I decided to leave Wallingford early. The bus journey from Wallingford to Four oaks was a lot faster than usual and three hours after leaving Wallingford, I reached Four Oaks. I spent a few hours finishing off a couple of pieces of work and then got my running gear together for Cambridge. Shortly after lunchtime it started to snow in Four Oaks, the snow continued all day, and I started to worry about getting to Cambridge. I headed to bed early as the sore throat I’d been nursing all week had suddenly got a lot worse.

Saturday – Rest

I checked the Cambridge Half page and the trains the second I woke up. According to the event organisers the half marathon was still going ahead as planned. The local trains, however, were running but with severe delays. I got up, had a shower, got dressed and made myself eat a huge breakfast. I packed my bags and walked the short distance to the local train station.Collage 37Unfortunately, this short walk left me feeling so shattered and light-headed; I reluctantly accepted that attempting to run a half marathon wouldn’t have been sensible. I walked home, cancelled my hotel room, applied for a train ticket refund, apologised to all my sponsors and headed to bed.

Sunday – Rest

I spent most of Sunday doing four things; sleeping, experiencing severe race #FOMO, researching alternative half marathons and summer races. If I’m feeling better, I’ll be running in an exclusive event next Sunday; the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon. There won’t be a medal and goody bag waiting for me at the finish line, but I know that I’ll feel a lot better for running a half marathon.

So a huge “thanks” to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my series of Cambridge Half training updates. After raising a lot of money for charity, I’m devastated that I didn’t make it to the start line. I know that I made the right decision but I’m still feeling incredibly disappointed.  It’s been an eventful training cycle; I’ve relocated (sort of) to Wallingford, started a new job and joined a new running group. Hopefully my next training cycle will be slightly less stressful.

Training totals:

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

Final niggleometer:

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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 11

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

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

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

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

Thursday – 50 mins easy

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

Friday – 40 mins cross training

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

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

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

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

Sunday – 6 miles steady

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

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

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

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

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

Training totals

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


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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 10

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

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

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

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

Thursday – 10 mins easy

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

Friday – 40 mins torture

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

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

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

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

Sunday – 12 miles long run

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

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

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

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

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

Training totals;

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


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

Rants and raves #23

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after getting very limited sleep last night. As a result I’m feeling incredibly tired and grumpy. I’m also a little frustrated because the weather is rubbish. As always all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other far less moany and far, far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Running

I don’t want to tempt fate, but I’m really enjoying most of my training runs at the moment. Okay so running loops around a slightly dodgy housing estate in the dark isn’t ideal, but I genuinely believe that some running is better than no running. This may some daft and slightly paranoid, but I’ve reached the stage that I’m enjoying running so much, I’m scared that I’m about to pick up some sort of new and completely random injury.

I was actually quite pleased with my recent 10 mile run.


Running with the Run Wallingford group has enabled me to meet people and to make friends outside of work. However, whenever I run I’m scared I’ll pick up an injury and will have to miss my weekly training sessions with Run Wallingford. I’m also aware that if I get injured I may not be able to complete the Cambridge Half Marathon and would let down my mentor and all the people who have sponsored me.

Rant: my complete lack of self-confidence

Most of you know that just over three weeks ago I started a new job. Unfortunately, I already feel like I’m not doing very well and that I’m a burden on the rest of my team. I’ve done the same job before and feel I should have picked up exactly where I left off, and hit the ground running. Slightly daft given that I last worked as a hydrologist in 2009. One of my colleagues reminded me that it takes at least six months to feel completely settled in a new job. I’m hoping to feel slightly more confident in my new role before June.

I need to remind myself that this happened relatively recently.

Emma Neachell UoW_Marylebone_Graduation_03.2016

Sometimes my complete lack of self-confidence is a nightmare. I’m certain that I come across as being quite negative. Although I’ve now stopped feeling stressed during my 30 minute walk into the office, I still feel as if my manager is about to realise she made a huge mistake, and that I’ll be asked to gather my belongings before being escorted out of the office.

Rave: Wallingford

Although Wallingford definitely doesn’t feel like ‘home’ at the moment – probably because I’ve been spending my weekends in Four Oaks – I’m hopeful that when the weather improves, I’ll start to enjoy living in the town. A number of colleagues have told me that once people move to Wallingford they rarely leave. I’m not convinced!IMG_0803Parts of my 1.5 mile walk into the office are incredibly scenic. I love walking across Wallingford Bridge and checking out the River Thames every morning. I’m really looking forward to being able to run along the river when the weather improves in the spring. One of my housemates is a runner and has promised to show me some of his favourite running routes.

Rant: The weather

Can someone explain to me why the weather is generally okayish during the week but rubbish during the weekend? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve checked the weather forecast for tomorrow morning. Some sites are forecasting icy conditions others are forecasting heavy rain. This is such a #thirdworldproblem but I just want to be able to run without worrying about snow and ice.

BBC Weather

And don’t get me started on the complete lack of consistency between Met Check, the Met Office and BBC weather. It’s 2018, surely there should be slightly more consistency!?

Rave: Flexitime

One of the main perks of my new job has to be the flexitime system. There are other perks but the flexitime system is my favourite. Thanks to the wonders of flexitime, as long as I’ve done enough hours, I’m able to escape from the office at 15:00 on a Friday afternoon. Leaving the office at a sensible time means that if my trains aren’t too delayed, I’m back at home eating a Chinese takeaway less than three hours after leaving the office.

Rant: Noisy housemates

Five of my housemates are really friendly and the house is generally so quiet I forget I’m living with six other people (luckily there are two bathrooms and three loos). However, one housemate has a rather irritating habit of cooking his breakfast at 05:30 and turning on the extractor fan. Not ideal when my room is directly over the kitchen and I’m generally kept awake until 23:00.

The first time it happened – the noise was so loud even my deluxe earplugs didn’t keep the noise out – I wondered what the hell was happening. I’ve now got used to being occasionally woken up at 05:30 but I can’t say that I’m thrilled when I hear the extractor fan first thing in the morning.


I’ll save the running the tap and instant shower scalding combination, the lack of living room and the loo roll thief rants for a future rants and raves blog.

I was going to rant about delayed, smelly and overcrowded trains but I think I’ve complained enough already. I also need to do something slightly more productive with my Sunday afternoon.

Once again, if you made it to the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves then thank you!

How is your running going at the moment and do you have any races planned? Although I’m slightly paranoid I’m going to pick up an injury, I think I’m finally starting to look forward to the Cambridge Half in March.

Does your job come with any unusual perks? My office is located a short walk from the most amazing gym. I can’t wait to be able to afford the membership fees.  

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 8

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were escaping Wallingford on Friday afternoon and completing a really confidence boosting 10 mile long run yesterday morning. It’s just a shame that the weekend only seemed to last about five seconds.Collage 20Following yet another tiring Monday, a persistent cough and cold meant that I treated myself to an extra rest day on Tuesday. I attended my second training session with Run Wallingford on Wednesday and completed a challenging 30 minute ‘fartlek’ session. Although I don’t think my legs were completely recovered from Wednesdays training session, I managed to complete an easy 50 minute run on Thursday, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a longer 10 mile run yesterday.

In addition to running four times, I walked the mile and a bit to and from the office every day and spent an hour walking up and down the stairs at home on Friday evening. All the extra walking means that I’m starting to feel a lot fitter.

So how did my fragile feet and knees cope with the eighth week of my half marathon training? How did I find running in Wallingford for 50 minutes?

Monday – Rest

Once again, I started the week feeling shattered after one of my housemates kindly woke me up first thing in the morning. I can’t wait to move as although most of my housemates are lovely, sharing a house with six other people can be incredibly stressful. Fortunately, the windy walk to work woke me up and made me feel a lot better. As it was reasonably light, I managed to take some photos of Wallingford and the River Thames. Collage 21I left the office at 17:30, got back to my room and spent an hour or so waiting for a phone call that didn’t happen, read a few blogs, answered a few emails and then headed to bed at 21:30. My phone eventually rang at 22:30 and I struggled to get back to sleep after spending half an hour chatting to my mentor.

Tuesday – Rest

Getting out of bed on Tuesday was difficult. I spent most of the day trying not to yawn every five minutes, staying awake after lunch was somewhat challenging. I would have done anything for an afternoon power nap. I left the office at 17:30, got home 45 minutes later, went for a nap and then woke up two hours later. I weighed up the pros and cons of trying to run in a poorly lit and unfamiliar area, and decided to postpone my 50 minute easy run until Thursday.

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

Following a long but productive day at work, I found myself walking the short distance to Wallingford Sports Hall to meet up with the Run Wallingford group. Earlier in the week, the group leader had sent around an email recommending everyone wore trail shoes. As my trail shoes were chilling out in Four Oaks, I had to make do with my Brooks Adrenalines. The group leader explained that we would be completing triangle and pyramid sessions on the local football field. Both training sessions sounded relativity simple but turned out to quite difficult.Collage 22After a quick warm-up, we split into two groups of seven. My group started with a ‘pyramid’ session, let’s just say I was reminded that I’m a rubbish sprinter and was struggling towards the end. My group then headed to the ‘triangle’ and spent 20 minutes walking, jogging and then running along the three sides of the triangle. I finished the hour session feeling shattered and with trainers and legs covered in mud. Although there had been a fair amount of standing around, I felt I got a good workout as running on muddy grass was energy sapping. I definitely completed my scheduled 30 minute tempo session.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

Thursday should have been a rest day. As I walked back from the office, I realised that I needed some fresh air and some ‘thinking time’ so I decided to attempt the 50 minute easy run I’d missed on Tuesday. Much as I dislike the complete lack of running routes in Wallingford, my new motto is some running is better than no running. After spending far too long faffing around getting my bags packed ready for a quick getaway after work, I got changed into some running gear, did some half-hearted stretches and headed out the door into the cold. The run itself was dull – running laps around a housing estate was monotonous – and I was pleased when the 50 minutes was over. I can’t wait for the lighter evenings when I’ll be able to run along the River Thames.

Friday – 30 mins cross-training

Once again, I managed to escape from the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. I felt so hungry on the final train journey between Birmingham and Four Oaks, I was super lazy organised, phoned my friend and asked him to order me a takeaway from the local Chinese. Dangerous because I knew that as soon as I sat down I’d find it hard to make myself move again. Once I’d finished my Chinese – it tasted amazing – I had a quick shower, stuck all my work clothes in the wash and then treated myself to a power nap. I eventually completed a 30 minute stair session at almost 22:30. My neighbours must have wondered what I was doing.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

I’m not sure my right knee appreciated my 30 minute stair session as it felt a little niggly when I woke at 06:30. I’d originally planned to get my run in before 09:00, but I looked out the window, saw that it was raining and went back to bed. After a sneaky lie-in, I headed out the door and enjoyed running in a sleet storm for 40 minutes. As I wanted to actually enjoy my run and needed to save my legs for my 10 mile run, I decided to use my Garmin as a stopwatch. My ‘naked’ run felt great and I got home feeling cold but invigorated. I had a shower, got my ironing done and met up with my mum and stepdad for a large cooked breakfast in The Mare Pool in Mere Green. I was kind of jealous of the people enjoying their pints at 10:45!

The rest of my Saturday was unfortunately not quite so exciting. I entered a couple of races and resisted the temptation to enter the Great Midlands Fun Run. I sorted through all my running and gym gear and put together a huge pile to list on Facebook next time I have a week off. I then spent a couple of hours sending some slightly overdue emails. I’m so disorganised I sometimes wish I wasn’t an adult.

Sunday – 10 mile long run

Predictably, I had a terrible night’s sleep before my 10 mile long run. At about 06:00 I thought “sod it” and decided to get ready to head out on what I hoped would be my longest run since the Great Birmingham Run. My Garmin must have known I was feeling a little apprehensive about my run as it seemed to take forever to function as a GPS. I had what I hoped was a cunning plan in my mind and set out with the aim of starting at a sensible pace and then increasing my pace if my legs, feet, calf muscles etc felt reasonably niggle free.

The first two miles weren’t very enjoyable as it was cold and my calf muscles felt incredibly tight. Once I’d warmed and woken up, I started to enjoy my run and increased my pace. I felt incredibly relaxed until 8 miles into the run when my stomach suddenly started to feel rather ‘suspect’. Luckily the feeling of needing the loo didn’t last too long and I managed to finish my run without walking and without having an accident. Here’s the link to the Relive video of my run.Collage 23So that’s the eighth week of my half marathon training plan successfully completed. Only another four weeks to go! I had to switch some of the running sessions around but managed to finish all of my runs.

I just had a sneaky peak and discovered that week nine of my Cambridge Half training plan looks rather challenging. I’m concerned that my running coach has been so ambitious; my rest days on Monday and Thursday will be the highlight of the week. So following Mondays rest day I’m scheduled to complete a 50 minute easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo session on Wednesday – I may take part in another Run Wallingford training session, a speed work session lasting 40 minutes on Saturday and a 12 mile long run on Sunday. I queried the 12 mile long run with my coach as I thought it was a typo!

At some stage on Friday I’ve got to fit in 50 minutes of cross-training. If I feel as shattered as I did last Friday I suspect I’ll struggle to motivate myself.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 17 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 95.63 miles


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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 6

I’m aware that I’m getting predictable, but I hope that everyone had a great weekend. Mine was enjoyable but only seemed to last five seconds. I travelled back home straight from work on Friday afternoon and returned to Wallingford late last night. I haven’t actually seen Wallingford in the daytime yet!Collage 14Following a slightly stressful Monday, week six of my Cambridge Half training saw me miss an easy 45 minute run on Tuesday – I bottled out of running for 45 minutes in a totally unfamiliar area, switch my 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday to a session with Run Wallingford, complete a 40 minute speed session around Four Oaks on Saturday morning and a longer 8 mile run in Sutton Park on Sunday morning.

A lack of time in the morning meant that I found myself walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes. I’m still not a huge fan of cross-training, hopefully the 30 minutes I spend walking to and from the office counts as an acceptable alternative.

So how did my slightly niggly left calf and left foot cope during the sixth week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

When I looked out my window at 07:00 I discovered that it was raining, a lot. Welcome to Wallingford Emma! Luckily, the rain stopped during my 30 minute walk into the office and I didn’t turn up on day one looking like a drowned rat. I don’t think I should discuss my new job too much on here but it went very well and everyone was really friendly.Collage 15I’ve no idea why I managed to get myself so worked up. I’ve got a nice desk next to the window and spent some of my lunchtime watching groups of people running. At some stage I need to find out more about the lunchtime running groups. For some bizarre reason, I found sitting in an office for almost eight hours incredibly tiring. I guess I’m not used to working 9-5!

Tuesday – Rest

I should have completed an easy 45 minute run on Tuesday evening but in the end I decided not to. I came up with some great excuses including a lack of local running route knowledge, a lack of gym membership funds – I don’t get paid until the end of February and the fact for some strange reason I felt shattered after sitting on my arse all day. At least I got some exercise walking the 1.5 miles to and from the office.

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

Most people moving to a new area probably research useful things like shops and public transport. I spent ages researching running clubs in the area. When a quick session on Google pointed me in the direction of a running group called Run Wallingford, I registered and signed up for a couple of their Wednesday evening training sessions. I figured that some running was better than completely missing my 30 minute tempo run.

After a slightly hectic day at work, I managed to ignore the fact I felt hungry and found myself walking towards Wallingford School feeling incredibly nervous. I tracked down the running group – runners are always easy to spot, introduced myself to the group leader, confirmed that I wasn’t a beginner and joined the group who would be running approximately 5k. After a quick warm-up I found myself running in Wallingford for the first time.

It took me 10 minutes to realise that Wallingford is tiny, has incredibly uneven pavements and rubbish streetlights. While I enjoyed running laps around the town, I didn’t enjoy having to spend a minute completing exercises including press-ups, burpees and squats next to the main road. Next week, I need to remember to pause my Garmin when I’m not running. I also need to make a bit more effort to talk to some of the other runners.

 Thursday – Rest

Less than 5 minutes into my morning walk to the office, I discovered that my first run around the streets of Wallingford had left me with a tight and niggly left calf. Nothing changes. I think the highlight of my Thursday was spotting a notice on a notice board advertising a running club located a short walk from my office. The club organises runs ranging between 5 and 10 miles every Tuesday and a 3 mile time trial every Friday.  When I’m a lot fitter and faster, I’ll do a bit more research.

Friday – 40 mins cross-training

Thanks to the flexi-time system, I left the office at 15:00 and made it back to Four Oaks an hour earlier than I’d originally planned at 18:00. I had a quick shower, got changed into some gym gear, chucked all my work clothes into the wash and settled down in front of the TV with a takeaway. After allowing myself an hour of chilling out time, I made myself leave the comfort of the settee, did some stretches and embarked on a 40 minute stair session. Fortunately, my slightly niggly left calf didn’t feel too bad and I managed to complete my cross-training session.

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

Fortunately, I managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to complete a 40 minute run – I’m not sure I could call it a speed work session – before it started to snow. Unfortunately, my Garmin decided that it didn’t want to function as a GPS, again! When I’ve saved up a bit of money, I’ll definitely be investing in a replacement. After spending what felt like ages getting cold waiting for it to pick up a signal, I decided to run using it as an overpriced stopwatch.

As my left calf was still feeling a little niggly after Wednesday’s slightly unusual training session, I decided to jog for a few minutes before starting my run. Once again, the second I started jogging my niggles virtually disappeared. The 40 minute run was amazing; it felt good to be running in the daylight and in familiar surroundings. Thanks to one of my favourite running related websites – GB Mapometer – I worked out that I ran roughly 4.2 miles in 40 minutes, a definite improvement on Wednesday evening! And then it started to snow so much my longer run on Sunday looked doubtful.

The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think vacuuming, ironing, blogmin and stressing, I’ve decided not to bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 8 mile long run

At approx 08:30 on Sunday morning I found myself ‘skating’ the mile or so to Ellen’s house. The pavements were so icy we decided to head into Sutton Park for our 8 mile long run. The long run was challenging in places due to the snow, ice and flooding but a lot of fun. I really enjoyed running with someone else, and doubt I would have even attempted to run in the snowy conditions on my own. We actually bumped into loads of runners; Sutton Park is clearly the place to run on a snowy Sunday morning.  Collage 16I had a quick cuppa with Ellen and then ran back home. I quickly discovered that although I’d started the run with a full set of toenails, I’d ended the run with nine. I spent the rest of my Sunday getting my gear together to take back to Wallingford, obsessively checking the local trains were running and generally wishing that I could stay in Four Oaks. I decided to delay booking train tickets for next weekend and to see how I got on during the week.

So that’s the sixth week of my half marathon training more or less completed. Reaching the halfway stage of my training feels great, only another six weeks to go…

Week seven of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day. I have a feeling that my niggles will need some time to recover after running 8 miles in Sutton Park. I’ve then got to complete an easy 45 minute run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – at the moment I think I’ll run with Run Wallingford again, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and a slightly shorter 6 mile run on Sunday. In addition to running four times next week and walking 3 miles a day to and from the office, I’ve got to work out when I can fit in a 50 minute cross-training session.

Although I returned home straight after work on Friday, I’m not sure that I can justify or afford the expense of returning home every Friday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 17
  • Time: 11 hours 26 mins
  • Distance: 63.46 miles


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