London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 10

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone who reads my waffle had an amazing weekend. I had an enjoyable but perhaps slightly chaotic weekend. I’m feeling tired this morning, getting out of bed this morning was difficult.Collage 24Week 10 of my half marathon training plan – the ‘peak’ week – recommended that I completed a 30 minute easy run on Monday, a 60 minute easy run on Thursday, a 5k run or parkrun on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute run on Sunday. After missing far too many longer runs, I was determined to run for a couple of hours on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the tenth week of my London Landmarks Half training? Did my niggly right knee behave itself? Did I remain injury free? Did I allow the pub to get in the way of running?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

After a celebratory wine and beer on Sunday evening, I started the week with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately for everyone, I felt a lot better after the walk into the office. Thanks to some computer related issues – I’m pretty certain computers shouldn’t take 30 minutes to load – I didn’t have the most productive morning ever. The afternoon didn’t improve and I wasn’t in the best of moods when I left work.

The walk back to my room and a sneaky powernap helped me to shift my slightly grumpy mood. I decided to postpone my 30 minute run by a day as my right knee felt quite niggly after my long run on Sunday and I felt too tired to run. Not the most positive start to the week, perhaps I need to avoid working on Mondays.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

Thanks to some decent sleep, I woke up feeling reasonably refreshed, even my archaic work computer failed to wind me up. I spent the day preparing flow and groundwater data for a hydrology report and felt like I’d had a productive day when I left the office with a colleague. I’m not sure what happened, but we ended up back in The Old Post Office enjoying a beer and some healthy snacks crisps. Fortunately, my colleague could only stay for a couple; otherwise there is no way I would have headed out for a run.Collage 25I escaped from The Old Post Office, picked up some bits and pieces in Waitrose, got back to my room and then spent an hour writing a product review and watching Casualty. Once I felt confident the beer had settled, I got changed into some running gear and headed out of the door before I could change my mind. The half hour run felt reasonably easy, the beer just about stayed put and I avoided having an unfortunate incident in the centre of Wallingford. It felt good to make a start on ‘peak’ week.

Wednesday – Rest

My computer finally ‘died’ and I spent quite a lot of time on the ‘phone talking to someone on the computer helpdesk. I’m not sure why I was told changing my password would solve my computer related woes; it didn’t. In the end, I abandoned my computer, tracked down a spare desktop and managed to finish collating a technical report that had to be completed by Friday. My colleague very kindly saved me from a wet walk, gave me a lift back to her house in Wallingford and cooked us an awesome meal.

The rest of the evening was incredibly chilled out, just what this doctor ordered. I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to run before work. Sensible people would have gone to bed at a reasonable time, I somehow ended up watching violin master classes on YouTube and completely lost track of the time. Who needs sleep..?

Thursday – 60 mins easy

Getting out of bed at 05:30 was a bit of a struggle. Once I got outside, it took me quite a long time to wake up and to get into my stride, to be honest, the run felt anything but easy. I was reminded that Wallingford is quite a small town and that the bridge over the River Thames is just like Mount Everest when your legs are feeling tired. Although the run was challenging, it felt incredibly satisfying to complete a midweek training run before 07:00. It’s just a shame my lack of fitness meant that the post-run walk into the office seemed to take forever.

Computer issues meant that work was a little frustrating at times. Anyone who has ever used ArcGIS will know you need a decent computer to actually use it; my temporary computer didn’t seem to cope with the map I was trying to produce. My early start meant that by lunchtime I was feeling pretty tired, I’ve got so much respect for people who run before work, I couldn’t do it on a regular basis.

The rest of Thursday was a little predictable. One minute I was in the office, the next I was enjoying a couple of pints in The Old Post Office. I think it’s safe to say that I slept well on Thursday night.

Friday – Rest

I had a productive Friday as I was quite literally the only person in the office from my team. Walking to lunch on my own felt a little strange, but I found myself a different team to sit with. After a short but productive afternoon, I escaped from the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks after a reasonably stress free journey, three hours later. The evening was dull but incredibly productive as I made a great start on my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I’ve no idea how I used to go out every Friday evening, these days I’m in bed well before midnight.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

I looked at the weather forecast, saw it was going to be a tad soggy, and decided not to head to my local parkrun. I spent the morning replying to emails, reading Tokyo Marathon race recaps – one day, I’d love to go to Tokyo, and generally faffing around. At lunchtime I met up with a friend in Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green for an early lunch. I decided to be brave and opted for a new to me starter; the Goats’ cheese bruschetta. I’m not a huge fan of beetroot but quite enjoyed the bruschetta. The steak with my steak-frites was a little chewy, and the Crème brûlée quite small compared to last time. I guess you can’t win them all.Collage 26After lunch, I had the enjoyable experience of Sutton Coldfield on a Saturday afternoon. I had to collect an order from TK Maxx and needed to buy a couple of birthday cards. TK Maxx was incredibly busy but people didn’t seem to be actually buying anything. I was in and out of the store in less than five minutes, definitely a personal best. I grabbed a couple of birthday cards and escaped from the crowds. The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think sleep and lots of carbs – I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 120-130 mins easy 80 mins easy

I felt shattered when my alarm woke me at 05:00, not the best way to feel before a long training run. I lay in bed and mentally debated the pros and cons of getting my run done first thing in the morning, the pros just about outweighed the cons so I reluctantly got out of bed. The weather wasn’t ideal; cold, wet and quite windy, and it took me a long time to find my rhythm. My stomach unfortunately didn’t feel ‘right’ from the start, and after an hour of running, I reluctantly headed back home. I’m hoping that running for 80 minutes is better than running for zero minutes.LLHM MapI just about made it back home and headed straight to the loo. Loo stop completed, I headed to the kitchen made myself drink a pint of strawberry milkshake, stretched and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. I treated myself to a bit of a lie-in and watched the Big Half in bed – watching all the runners made me feel a tad lazy – next year I will hopefully at least start the race.

So that’s the tenth week of my half marathon training not really completed. I can’t believe there are now only a couple of weeks to go. I most definitely don’t feel at all prepared at the moment.

The penultimate week of the training plan I’ve been following is described as the ‘start of the taper’. To be honest, I haven’t done enough training to justify or to need a taper. I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog later today, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday and a 60 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. If my knee feels okay, I may try to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 18 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 99.59 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
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London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 9

I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were submitting a couple of job applications and completing a long run yesterday morning.Collage 23Week nine of my London Landmarks Half training plan recommended that I completed a steady 40 minute run on Monday, a steady 45-50 minute run on Wednesday, a 20 minute easy jog on Saturday, and a two hour long run at an easy pace on Sunday. After missing a few too many training runs, I was determined to complete my longer training run on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the ninth week of half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid the pubs in Wallingford? Did I manage to run after work? Did I rediscover my running mojo? Most importantly, did my slightly niggly right knee cope with four training runs?

Monday – 40 mins steady Rest

Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me, why I lack motivation. I booked Monday off so I could finish working through the comments some reviewers made on an academic manuscript I submitted ages ago. I think I did everything but spend time on my manuscript, it’s like I enjoy putting pressure on myself and causing myself more stress. I’ve always been the same. At university, I completed my dissertation three hours before it was due to be submitted. I didn’t even leave myself enough time to read through my masterpiece.

The weather was perfect, I could have run in the middle of the day and soaked up some Vitamin D, but I barely left the house. My procrastination levels were epic; I listed and sold more unwanted running gear on Farcebook, made a start on a job application and cleaned my fridge. What a waste of a day of leave.

Tuesday – Rest 40 mins steady

Once again, the weather was amazing, it definitely felt more like early summer than the end of winter. Such a contrast to the snow at the beginning of the month. After failing to leave the house the previous day, I played dodge the pushchairs, and got to the Post Office for when it opened. Following a couple of productive hours of hydrology work, mum collected me and we headed to the local farm shop for a late breakfast. I managed to polish off my Farmer’s breakfast in world record time, I’m not sure if my mum was shocked or impressed.Collage 22Eating a large breakfast left me with a bit of a running dilemma. I had to decide whether to run before heading back to Wallingford or when I got back to Wallingford. I decided to risk running less than two hours after eating a cooked breakfast.

Thanks to the cooked breakfast and the warm weather, the run felt far, far more difficult than it should have done nine weeks into half marathon training. I headed towards my usual ‘Figure of 8’ route in one of the flattest areas of Four Oaks. I thought it would be reasonably quiet, I was a little frustrated when I discovered I was sharing the pavements with dozens of school children completing some sort of cycle safety training. After nearly getting run over by children on bikes three times, I decided to run somewhere a little safer. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to reach the end of a training run; my beetroot impression lasted until I travelled back down to Wallingford.

Wednesday – 45-50 mins steady Rest

The day got off to a positive start when I remembered I had a meeting in Reading, I have been known to head to the wrong office. The highlight of the day was seeing a colleague for the first time in 15 years; some people never seem to age. The meeting itself was incredibly productive and the six hours flew by. I escaped from Reading with a colleague and got back to Wallingford after a slightly stressful bus journey. We decided to pop into The Old Post Office pub for a quick drink. Several hours, not enough food and a fascinating conversation with a retired international athlete later, I virtually fell into bed.

Thursday – Rest 45-50 mins steady

I’m definitely giving up alcohol for Lent! I may also attempt to put an end to my slightly excessive Diet Coke consumption. I’ll be 40 in May; I need to make more effort to look after myself. Although the office was busy, I had a reasonably productive day. I escaped the office a little later than originally planned, picked up some food in Waitrose, got back to my room and had a much-needed power nap.

Thankfully, my 50 minute steady run felt a million times easier than Tuesdays run. I have a feeling I’ve turned myself into some sort of early morning/evening runner who doesn’t run very well when it’s light or above 5°c, not ideal! I got back to my lodgings, packed my bags, managed not to break the slightly scary power shower and headed to bed at a sensible time.

Friday – Rest

Most people who read my waffle know that thanks to the wonders of flexitime, I escape from the office at 15:00 on Fridays. For once the bus and trains behaved themselves, and I had a stress-free journey back to Four Oaks. I briefly considered completing a 20 minute jog but decided to give my slightly niggly right knee a rest. My Friday evening was dull but productive. As soon as I got home I went into get shit done mode, and managed to cross off most of my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I also made sure that I remembered to watch some of the European Indoor Athletics. I just love watching KJT and Laura Muir compete.

Saturday – 20 mins easy jog

I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I woke up at 05:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to get my 20 minute run done and dusted so that I didn’t have time to change my mind, I was also aware that running first thing in the morning would give me more time to recover before my long run. The run was definitely too fast for a jog but still felt relatively easy. I wore my new Brooks for the first time and didn’t think they felt as comfortable as I’d hoped.Sutton ParkFollowing a quick trip to Sutton Coldfield – Sutton Park looked beautiful – the rest of the day was so mundane; I won’t bore you to tears with the details. I made sure that I didn’t waste too much time obsessing over the weather, ate a high-carb meal, watched more athletics, set my alarm for 05:00 and headed to bed at a sensible (for me) time.

Sunday – 120 mins easy

I found it really hard to get to sleep, and ended up getting the not so impressive total of four hours sleep. I almost felt jet-lagged when my alarm woke me at 05:00. Thanks to a combination of the weather and my lack of fitness, my long run yesterday felt challenging. My calf muscles felt quite tight to start with and seemed to take a long time to warm up. I felt tired and rather surprisingly given what I’d eaten the evening before, under-fuelled. I allowed myself a walking break after 60 minutes and then struggled to get going again. I’d overestimated how far I’d run in two hours, and found myself ‘waddling’ down a main road in the rain at 07:15.3 weeks to goSo that’s the ninth week of my London Landmarks Half training more or less completed. I can’t believe there are only three more weeks to go, I don’t feel at all prepared.

The tenth week of my half marathon training plan is described as the ‘peak week’ and appears to be the most important week of training. I’m aiming to complete a 30 minute run later today, an hour long easy run after work on Thursday, parkrun or an equivalent run on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute long easy run on Sunday. I was originally going to complete the Big Half in London on Sunday but have decided not to travel down to London.

Training totals

  • Runs: 19
  • Time: 15 hours 12 mins
  • Distance: 84.13 miles

 Niggleometer

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

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine last week? I definitely picked the right time to take leave, it’s just a shame I didn’t make the most of the good weather.

Do you tell people when and where you are going running? Something happened during my long run yesterday that got me thinking. I don’t tell people I’m heading out running; perhaps I should start taking my mobile ‘phone with me!

Pretty Athletic skincare review

Good morning and happy Thursday. I can’t believe that it’s almost the weekend again. This year really does seem to be flying by. I’ve got something a little different for you today; my thoughts on some skincare products I’ve been reviewing.

Now you all know that I love running. I love running in the rain, in the snow, when it’s cold and when it’s warm. I won’t lie and say that I love running when it’s hot as my face ends up the same colour as a beetroot. Running is awesome; it boosts my mood and helps me sleep, I’m definitely happier when I’m able to run consistently.Running photo collageUnfortunately, my skin doesn’t appear to be such a fan of my slight running obsession. The last couple of years, my skin has felt dry and at times quite sore, especially when I’ve been running outside. I don’t think the recent cold weather has helped as walking to and from the office five days a week means that my skin has been getting a bit of a battering.

I’ll be 40 in May *gulp* so I think it’s about time I started to take more care of my skin. At the moment, my skincare routine is very much ‘wash and go’ and I don’t have a clue when it comes to skincare products. I was therefore excited but also a little apprehensive when I was given the opportunity to select an item from the Pretty Athletic skincare range to test out and review. I didn’t have a clue which item to choose and selected an item based on its name. I was delighted when the following products arrived in the post:

  • Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser
  • Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic
  • Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

Now that I’ve been using the Pretty Athletic skincare products for a month or so, I feel that I’m able to produce a hopefully useful product review.

Before I look at each product in turn, I’d like to provide a bit of information about the Pretty Athletic skincare brand.

An Introduction to Pretty Athletic skincare

Pretty Athletic skincare was founded by Leyla Cooper.  Leyla explains that Pretty Athletic came about when, rushing back to work after a lunchtime workout, she realised that there was a lack of products and advice relating to what to use on her skin before and after exercise. Leyla also noticed that while skincare brands love to put ‘sport’ on products like shower gel to market them at men, there weren’t any skincare brands that addressed the needs of active women.

Let’s face it, women sweat too!

Pretty Athletic skincare is free from gimmicks. From product conception, to formulation and testing, every product has to meet the specific skincare needs of active women. The Pretty Athletic skincare range is 95% natural, vegan and packed with scientifically-proven actives. With six products currently available and more being developed, Pretty Athletic aim to be the go-to brand for active women.

As a keen runner with sensitive, dry and I suspect rapidly aging skin, I couldn’t wait to try out the three products I’d been sent. So how did I get on?

The review process

I’m aware that I’m repeating myself but I’m a complete novice when it comes to skincare products. I don’t have a clue when to actually use different types of skincare products; luckily Pretty Athletic provide guidance on when each of their products should be used. Thanks Pretty Athletic, this stopped me getting my moisturiser mixed up with my tonic.

Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser

“Lightweight and easily absorbed, this cooling gel body moisturiser is a beautifully refreshing way to hydrate. Formulated with Sasha Inchi Oil, Hyaluronic Acid and Black Oats to deeply hydrate the skin. Rich in soothing Aloe Vera, and infused with nourishing vitamins and antioxidants. A patented multi-mineral complex revitalises and energizes the skin” Hydration KickThe Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser was the first product I tried out. I massaged a load into my face and then panicked when I read the bottle and spotted that it clearly says ‘body’ moisturiser. Sometimes I’m such an idiot! Fortunately, although my face felt cool, my skin didn’t react and I was able to go to work the following morning.

After that initial hiccup, I’ve been using the body moisturiser after my nightly shower and I love it. The moisturiser is lightweight and easily absorbed. It smells amazing and a little goes a long way; I have a feeling that the bottle will last me a long time. Finally, although I have sensitive skin, the moisturiser didn’t cause any skin irritation, even when I accidentally applied it to my face. I’ll definitely be treating myself to more when this bottle runs out.

Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic

“This beautiful rose water tonic enriched with gentle coconut-derived cleansers and vital skin nutrients is a super quick way of achieving clean, nourished and hydrated skin in one simple step. Lightweight Hyaluronic Acid and botanical extracts of Rose and Calendula help to leave the skin feeling perfectly balanced. Vitamin E and Niacinamide nourish and provide antioxidant benefits. Use pre & post workout”Workout GlowOnce I’d recovered from applying body moisturiser to my face, I felt brave enough to test out the Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic. I made sure that I read and re-read the packaging, Pretty Athletic recommend cleansing your skin before and after exercise, spraying the Vitamin Tonic onto your face, and then wiping off any excess with a cotton pad.

I first applied the Vitamin Tonic after a long run, it was definitely quite cooling, almost a little too cooling. I think I’ll save the Vitamin Tonic for Summer 2019, hopefully its cooling properties will reduce the amount of time I spend looking like a beetroot. A runner can always hope.

Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum

“A lightweight serum-oil, rich in phytosterols and high levels of antioxidants that helps to restore the skin barrier and fight the signs of environmental damage. Contains 0.5% Vitamin A Palmitate, 0.5% Vitamin E and 1% Vitamin C as well as the active Phytoserene which has a proven capacity to improve the skin’s barrier effect after stress, improve skin moisturisation, and help diminish skin redness after stress”Recovery BoostThe final product I tried was the Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. This product is designed to repair and to soothe so I thought it would be perfect after a long run. Pretty Athletic recommend that it is applied to dry skin, at night.

The first time I used the Repair Serum I suspect I applied too much as my skin felt slightly greasy. A little definitely goes a long way. Now that I’ve sussed out how much Repair Serum to apply, I’ve incorporated it into my nightly post-shower routine. After less than a month’s use, my skin feels a lot smoother and is not as dry as it was.

The Verdict

Once I’d worked out when to use each product, I felt confident enough to try out the Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum. I also appreciated getting the opportunity to find out how to look after my skin more both before and after I’ve been running. I did, however, find myself questioning if we really need special skincare products for sport. Are the standard moisturisers and other skincare products in my bathroom cabinet capable of looking after my skin? I’ve genuinely got no idea. What I do know is that the Pretty Athletic products didn’t irritate my sensitive skin. My skin is in better condition than it has done in years, the products are now part of my skincare routine.

So thanks again to Pretty Athletic for sending me three products from your skincare range to test out and review. For more information on Pretty Athletic please visit their website. Pretty Athletic skincare is available from a range of retailers and items in the skincare collection start from £15.50. You can also purchase items direct from Pretty Athletic.

**Full disclosure: Pretty Athletic sent me a bottle of Hydration Kick Gel Body Moisturiser, Workout Glow Hyaluronic Vitamin Tonic and Recovery Boost Cell Repair Serum for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always, all dodgy photographs and opinions are my own**

Rants and raves #33 and a giveaway

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

Rave: My new lodgings

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

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

Rant: SpareRoom

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

Even this shared house sounded better!

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

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

Rave: Famous failures

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

Thanks Jeff!

Rant: The lurgy

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

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

Rave: Bargainous 2XU reflective leggings

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

Rant: eBay again

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

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

[Source]

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

Rave: Facebook selling pages

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

Rant: The Running Bug

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

Rave: Reflective hairband and a giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 6

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

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

Monday – 30 mins easy

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

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

Tuesday – 25 mins fast Rest

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

Wednesday – Rest

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

Thursday – 45 mins steady

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

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

Friday – Rest

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

Saturday – Rest

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

Sunday – 10k race or time trial 60 mins easy

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

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

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

Training totals

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

 Niggleometer

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

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

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

The true cost of running

Good morning and happy Tuesday. This year, I’m aiming to save at least £500 a month. A lot of money, but it should be achievable if I’m sensible. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (very often) and I rarely go out out. I’m trying to cut down the number of takeaways I treat myself to. I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘proper’ holiday.

In theory, I don’t even have an expensive hobby. People keep reminding me that running is one of the cheapest sports out there. Running can be a cheap hobby, but in my experience can become quite expensive.

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Is running really that cheap? I spent an uncomfortable 30 minutes or so going through my 2018 running-related expenditure to see how much my cheap(?) hobby cost.

I really, really hope that my family don’t read this post…

Running clothes and trainers

  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £55
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £50
  • Feetures socks – £10
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech racerback top – £24
  • Feetures socks – £12
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Tribe Sports running leggings – £14.99
  • Karrimor reflective running tights – £15.99
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech short sleeve top – £29
  • 2XU reflective running leggings – £19.99
  • Nike running shorts – £10
  • Nike running jacket – £15.80
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers – £84
  • Nike Pro capris – £14.50

TOTAL: £451.27

Running accessories

  • Salomon running cap – £15.90
  • parkrun smoothband – £13.98
  • Sweaty Betty Anna headband – £11.50
  • Lululemon Run Fast gloves – £32
  • Lululemon Run All Day backpack – £65
  • Nathan Intensity hydration backpack – £69.92

TOTAL: £208.30

all-the-kit

Race entries

TOTAL: £350.20

Virtual races

  • Virtual Reading Half (replacement for Cambridge) – £12
  • Run Around the World Virtual Event – £13
  • Virtual Run Miles for Mind – £13.95
  • Run up to Christmas – £13
  • Virtual Runner 1000k – £13.50

TOTAL: £65.45

Travel and accommodation

  • Train to Cambridge Half – £10 (was originally £61.40 but got refund)
  • Train to Royal Parks Half – £28.30
  • Hotel in London before the Royal Parks Half – £159

TOTAL: £197.30

Running club

  • Fetch Everyone fees – £25

TOTAL: £25

Blogging

  • WordPress fees – £22
  • Plus a lot of my time writing for nothing!

TOTAL: £22

Miscellaneous

  • Royal Parks Half photos – £29.99
  • Donation to Alzheimer’s Society – £42

TOTAL: £71.99

GRAND TOTAL: £1391.51

Working out roughly how much I spent on my hobby last year actually made me feel quite embarrassed! I haven’t even included fuel and food costs.

I’m aware that I bought quite a few one-off purchases; for example the hydration pack and running backpack, however, I still spent a lot more than I thought. I don’t even want to work out how much money I wasted on races I DNS. I don’t think I’ll be entering any virtual races this year.

A lot of my running gear was either bought on eBay or in the sales, perhaps I should work out how much money I saved…

Fingers crossed 2019 is a slightly less expensive year. I’m going to avoid the temptation to enter races because of my #FOMO and I don’t need to buy any more running gear! I don’t think I’ll be entering any more race ballots this year.

Have you ever worked out how much money you spend on running in a year? I’d love to know if it’s more or less than I managed to spend in 2018.

Do you set yourself a running budget? I think I’m going to have to set myself a budget and will be slightly more selective when it comes to entering races this year.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 5

Happy Monday! I’m not in the office today because I’ve got an emergency dentist appointment this afternoon. I hope that you all had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was escaping from a very snowy Wallingford and actually managing to complete a training run.Collage 11Week five of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training – the mid schedule peak – recommended that I completed an easy half hour run after work today, a 20-25 minute speed session on Thursday, a steady 50 minute run on Friday and a longer 90 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After not running for three weeks I was desperate to run.

So how did I find the fifth week of my training? Did I manage to run? Did the weather cause any issues?

Monday – 30 mins easy

My first Monday in the office this year seemed to fly by. One minute I was completing my weekly time recording, the next I was getting ready to head back home. I’m thrilled to report that after missing so many training sessions I’ve lost count, I managed to complete a training run. Although it was dark and cold and I had to play dodge the pedestrian far too many times, I enjoyed every second of my 30-minute run. The run felt relatively easy and gave me a much-needed confidence boost. It’s just a shame the weather forecast for Wallingford for the rest of the week didn’t look very positive.

Tuesday – Rest

I had an incredibly productive day at work as I was the only person in the office from my team. Luckily, I wasn’t completely on my own as a couple of people were hotdesking near me. The weather was so nice I headed out for a chilly but enjoyable stroll around Howbery Park at lunchtime. I think it’s always good to get some fresh air; if I was more organised, I’d run at lunchtime. After an enjoyable afternoon of data analysis, I left the office and got completely drenched walking back to my new lodgings. I think I would have preferred snow.

Wednesday – Rest

The rain and sleet turned to ice overnight. As I didn’t want to fall over during my walk into the office, I slowed down and did my best impression of a penguin. I tried and failed to take some decent photos of Wallingford. Most of my team were back in the office which was good as I had someone to talk to. The highlight of the day was having my contract extended by three months. The extension to my contract means that I won’t be unemployed at the end of March. It means I’ll also have a bit more time to find a permanent job.

Thursday – 20-25 mins fast

I had an amazing Thursday. According to the BBC – not very accurate – weather App, it was -6°C when I walked into work. I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure my face would drop off in -6°C! As always, I seemed to spend far too much time taking photos of the River Thames and the Riverside Park. Wallingford is definitely far, far more scenic than Four Oaks.Collage 12Work was great; a team meeting, lunch at the Waterfront Cafe in Benson and then an enjoyable training session. I left the office at 17:00, got back to my lodgings, changed into some running gear and headed out into the cold. The 25 minute run definitely wasn’t what I would call fast but it was enjoyable. I got back, got changed and then walked to the George for a drink with my landlady. The walk back in heavy snow took us both by surprise.

Friday – 50 mins steady Rest

I woke up to a lot more snow than I expected! I half expected the office to be closed but it wasn’t. I saw that more snow was forecast and spent a couple of minutes trying to decide what to do. It was very much a case of should I stay or should I go.

I contacted my line manager to say I was heading back home to Four Oaks and would work from home. I took some snowy photos in Bull Croft Park and then spent a chilly 45 minutes waiting for a bus.Collage 13The rest of the journey was straightforward and there was no sign of any snow when I got back home. I had a reasonably productive afternoon of reading and number crunching and then treated myself to a takeaway from my favourite Chinese. After eating far too much I decided to delay my 50 minute run until Saturday morning.

Saturday – Rest 42 mins at a stupid pace

I debated heading to Sutton Park parkrun, but I’m lazy and my warm bed was more inviting than a chilly park! Unfortunately the pavements were a bit dodgy first thing in the morning so I headed out with the aim of running for 50 minutes at lunchtime. There were still a few slightly dicey patches but conditions were generally pretty good. I enjoyed running in daylight for the first time in ages but didn’t enjoy playing dodge the dogs. I’m not sure why, but I really struggled to run at a sensible pace and ultimately paid the price. Thanks to my stupidity and asthma, I had to stop running to get my breathing under control after 30 minutes. I started running again but felt so rough I decided to head back home. I guess 42 minutes is an improvement on zero minutes. The highlight of my Saturday– I’m easily pleased – was watching Wolves beat Everton; it’s always amusing when an animal on the pitch stops play.

Sunday – 90 mins comfortable Rest

When I started writing this running blog in 2013, I aimed to keep it real.  I wanted to share my dodgy running photos and the trials and tribulations of my life. In spite of this, I’m a little ashamed to confess that I didn’t complete my 90 minute training run yesterday because I didn’t feel like running. The thought of spending over an hour running in the cold just wasn’t tempting. Gone are the days I took my training far too seriously and used running as a strange form of punishment, running is my hobby and I run for fun. I’m hoping my running mojo returns this week.

So that’s week five of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I can’t believe there are only another seven weeks to go. Although week five was 100 per cent more successful than weeks two, three and four, I’m a little concerned about my fitness levels and the longer runs I’ve missed.

The sixth week of my training plan is described as a taper week with a mini target race. The training plan recommends I complete a 10k race or time trail on Sunday. I’ve already entered the Birmingham 10k Winter Run on Saturday so I’ll switch my Saturday and Sunday training runs around. I’ve also got to complete an easy half hour run on Monday, a ‘fast’ 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday and a slow 15 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 6
  • Time: 3 hours 32 mins
  • Distance: 20.25 miles

 Niggleometer

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

The ballot for the Royal Parks Half Marathon opened this week. Are you going to stick your name in the virtual ballot hat? I read through my race report from last year, saw how much it costs and decided not to bother. I’ve had my turn.

Do you find running in the cold difficult? I love running when it’s cold, it’s just a shame the cold air seems to be triggering my asthma at the moment.

Did you get much snow where you live? Wallingford had loads, Four Oaks had hardly any.