Great Birmingham Run training week 8

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – 20 mins steady

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

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

Thursday – 10 mins steady

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

Friday – Rest

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

Saturday – 5k race or time-trial

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

Sunday – 10 mins very easy jog

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

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

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

Training totals

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

 Races/time trials

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

 Niggleometer

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

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

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

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My Top 10 Websites for Runners

Recently, I’ve spent far, far too much time researching Plantar Fasciitis on the internet. My nickname could be Professor Plantar. The amount of information about injury rehabilitation is mind-blowing, and in a lot of cases of slightly dubious quality. As I’m sure that I’m not the only runner who spends quite a lot of time perusing the internet, I decided to share my top 10 websites for runners.

So here are my top 10 websites for runners:

1. Fetch Everyone If you want to write a blog, find an obscure local race, get advice from runners, enter competitions and monitor your progress (or lack of progress) as a runner, then visit Fetch Everyone. I’ve been a member since 2005 and have made some great friends through the site.

Awesome features and articles include:

2. Runner’s World Although the recent improvements to the site haven’t been popular, Runner’s World remains one of my favourite running sites. If you need advice and support you’ll find it on the forums. If you need to find a 10K race in April search the extensive race listings. The wide range of articles written by experts and occasional competitions are an added bonus.

Recent articles have included:

3. The Running Bug The running site that I have a bit of an ongoing love hate relationship with. I love the useful articles, competitions and forums. I don’t love my online stalker and the fact that I’ve never, ever won a Running Bug competition. Hopefully 2017 will be my lucky year!

Recent articles have included:

4. Strava Strava allows runners and cyclists to track and analyse their training, measure their performance against other athletes, share their training on social media and much more. I’m too tight to pay for a premium membership, so I’m aware that I’m missing out on most of the awesomeness of Strava. When I find myself a ‘proper’ job and can run I’ll be upgrading my account. On a side note, if you want to read about ‘runners’ setting CRs on bikes,  the twitter account @stravawankers is well worth following.

5. Running Heroes Back in October, the Running Heroes website featured as a ‘rave’ in one of my Rants and raves posts. Such an honour! Running Heroes works with organisations and brands to encourage and reward runners. The site is really easy to use and I’ve collated a lot of points and completed 30 challenges. While I’ve never been selected as a random prize winner, I remain quietly optimistic.

The site also allows runners to exchange their points for a wide range of rewards. I can’t wait for my running clothes ‘ban’ to come to an end so that I can exchange some of my points.

Running Heroes

6. GB Mapometer Although strictly speaking GB Mapometer isn’t a running site, it is a useful resource for runners. I used the site to plot all of my longer runs when I was training for the Great Birmingham Run. The site allows users to accurately plot and measure routes, and provides an indication of the elevation of each route. Useful for avoiding hills in the final few miles of a long training run.

7. parkrun An essential resource for all parkrunners. Although the site can be quite slow during the weekend when a bazillion runners are searching for their latest parkrun result, if you are a new runner and want to take part in your local parkrun, you need to visit the site to register. The site contains an interactive map which illustrates every parkrun event in the UK and links to the individual parkrun event pages, a blog, information on sponsors, results, some information on the parkrun team and a link to the parkrun shop.

parkrun

8. NHS Couch to 5K If I had to recommend one running website to people just starting out as a runner, it would be the NHS Couch to 5K site. The site is free and contains a wealth of information for both beginner and slightly more experienced runners. There are links to download the Couch to 5K app, weekly Couch to 5K podcasts, a simple to use race finder and the dedicated Couch to 5K forums. Finally, the series of guides for runners are a useful invaluable resource.

The most popular articles include:

9. Made with Sisu I’ve been using Made with Sisu to generate data visualisations based on my training runs for quite some time. I almost ordered a print of my 2016 training runs but held back when I realised it would probably end up sitting in a corner somewhere gathering dust. I reckon that this site is probably a must for runners attempting to complete the six World Marathon Major events, the example Tokyo Marathon print looks pretty awesome.

10. The Running Blog – The Guardian The final site to make it into my ‘Top 10’ is the Guardian’s Running Blog. Described as a blog on “…all things running, from jogs around the park to ultra marathons”, there is definitely something for runners of all standards and distances. I love the ‘How was your weekend running?’ and the ‘Friday flyer’ series; some of the comments left by runners and jealous non-runners are highly entertaining.

Recent articles have included:

Hopefully some of the websites and running resources I’ve summarised will be useful to some of you. I also hope that my rambling hasn’t bored you all to tears.

What are your favourite running websites? Did I miss out any really awesome sites?

Which website do you use to search for race listings? I’ve always tended to use Runner’s World find the new and improved site quite hard to use.

My running goals for 2017

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year! I hope that you all had a great Christmas and New Year. Here’s to an awesome and hopefully injury-free 2017.

As – like loads of other runners – I’ve already reviewed 2016 in far too much detail  – I think it’s time for me to look ahead to the New Year and to set some goals for 2017.

Although I managed to achieve most of my 2016 running goals, I still eat far too much crap food and tend to ignore the strength and conditioning ‘personal action plan’ I was given 12 months ago. Therefore, if I had to award myself an overall grade for 2016 it would be a ‘B-‘.

I’ve decided to set myself some challenging but hopefully achievable running goals for 2017. Although I love writing out resolutions and goals, I wasn’t originally going to share them. However, as previously putting my running goals into writing appeared to motivate me to get off my arse, I decided to publish this post.

training-journalsPerhaps one of my goals should have been to take better photos…

Enough waffling, here are my running goals for the year ahead…

Run 700 miles – When I first drafted out my running goals I wanted to run 1000 miles this year. However, last year I only ran 700 kilometres or approximately 435 miles. As a result I’ve been sensible and have adjusted my annual mileage target, so that this year I’d like to run 700 miles, still quite an increase on my 2016 mileage. I’ve worked out that I will need to run approximately 58 miles a month or 2 miles a day.

Complete 10 parkruns and 10 races – I set myself the same goal last year and failed miserably. Last week I worked out that due to several ‘DNS’ and a ‘DNF’ I only managed to complete three parkruns and a handful of local races. As I currently have to rely on unreliable friends and public transport to travel to races, I suspect that I’ll find this goal more challenging than it probably should be.

A sub 8 minute mile – my current mile PB of 9:09 is from 2012 when I hobbled around an indoor athletics track with tight bends with a leg injury. I’d like to lower this time at some point this year, hopefully at the Westminster Mile in May.

A Sub 25 minute 5k – I set my current 5k PB of 26:49 last February. If I fail to run a sub 25 minute 5k at some point during 2017 I will retire from running. That is a promise.

parkrun-pbI want to receive a few more ‘Congratulations on setting a new Personal Best’ emails this year

A Sub 55 minute 10k – After it took me several attempts to run a sub 60 minute 10k last year, I suspect that I will find this particular goal the most challenging. I’ve already entered the hopefully flat and fast London 10,000, and will do my best to set out at a sensible pace at the end of May.

A Sub 2:20 half marathon – now that I’ve finally rediscovered my running mojo, training for the Cambridge Half in March is going well. The mistakes I made during the Great Birmingham Run taught me how not to pace a half marathon. I’d love to achieve this particular running goal in March.

Listen to my niggles – I’ve reached the conclusion that I’m quite an injury-prone runner… Some runners hardly even seem to pick up injuries; I’m definitely not one of those runners. As I don’t want to spend another extended period sulking on the injury bench, I’m going to listen to my niggles this year.

Join a new running club – This is quite a tricky one as there is nothing wrong with my current running club, I’m just far too slow to attend the training sessions at the moment. I also have no idea where I’ll be living and working in six months time. Although I’ve researched alternative local running clubs, I’ll probably become an ‘unattached’ runner for the first time in a decade at the end of March.

Be slightly more sociable – At the moment I tend to run on my own and I’ve turned into a bit of a running recluse. This year I’m determined to overcome my anxiety and to attend more social runs. I’m also planning on pushing myself out of my comfort zone by volunteering at a range of local events.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal 12 months ago and failed spectacularly! Last month I sorted through all of my running gear, worked out exactly what bits and pieces of essential running gear I needed to replace and then bought what I needed in the sales. While I’m still on the hunt for a couple of sports bras, I don’t need to buy anything else.  

🙂

Have you set yourself any running goals for 2017? While some of these goals are quite challenging, I hope that they are all achievable…

Are you a member of a running club? If you are, how often do you attend club training sessions? There are now so many different social running groups, I’m starting to question if I actually need to join another running club.

2016 review: running highlights & lessons learned

As 2016 is nearly over, I’ve decided to write a review of my running highlights and lessons learned throughout the year. If you don’t enjoy reading review posts then please leave my blog now, I promise that I won’t be offended. I’m nosey and really, really enjoy reading about other runner’s progress, so please do get writing and sharing.

January

Following a slightly disappointing 2015 – stupid injuries – at the start of January I was working my way through the Couch to 5k training plan. I was also nursing a slightly niggly right knee. Rather unexpectedly I equalled my parkrun PB of 27:33 at my local parkrun – Walsall Arboretum – towards the end of the month. I still have no idea where that sub-30 minute time came from. However, the main running highlight of January was winning a place in the London Marathon. While I knew that whatever happened in April I would complete the marathon distance, I quickly discovered that I lacked both the mileage base and fitness required to run long distances. I decided to adopt a run-walk-run training strategy.

February

February was a mixed month. Although I successfully completed the Couch to 5k training plan and achieved a parkrun PB of 26:49, a foot niggle meant that my marathon training was extremely limited.

walsall-parkrun-pbHeading towards a parkrun PB

Once again I was reminded that my left foot and right knee could not cope with running longer distances. I started to feel concerned that any attempt to complete the London Marathon would cause another long-term injury. While I was unable to run, I did my best to maintain my fitness levels by swimming five days a week in preparation for Swimathon.

March 

The swimming, break from running and expensive physio sessions seemed to temporarily cure my knee niggle, and I was able to successfully complete 10 and 11 mile training runs at the beginning of the month. Although I missed the Mash March Madness 10k trail run in Cannock Chase due to a lack of transport, a week later I completed the 7 Pools Run, a challenging cross country run in Sutton Park, without taking a walking break. Unfortunately, I ended March with elbow and knee injuries. Evidently running a challenging 10k cross country event wasn’t very sensible. At the grand old age of 36, I was finally starting to fall to pieces. I accepted that the London Marathon would be a painful and not very positive race experience.

April 

The main focus of April was the London Marathon. My niggly left foot and right knee meant that my training in the lead up to the marathon was virtually nonexistent. Not ideal. Some mornings my niggles disappeared, other mornings I woke up and was barely able to walk. I started to suspect that the ‘niggles’ were all in my mind. Despite my negativity and lack of training, I somehow managed to complete the marathon distance.

london-marathon-selfieOne of my more successful running selfie attempts

I made the fatal error of thinking I could keep up with the Runner’s World ‘run-walk-run’ pacer. I managed to power walk and run to the half-way point. Shortly after running across Tower Bridge – the atmosphere was bloody amazing – I was clipped from behind and jarred my injury-prone right knee. The second half of the marathon was miserable, cold and painful, and as I hobbled towards the finish line in the less than impressive time of 5 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds, I accepted that my marathon running days were over. I shared my honest review of the London Marathon on social media and the subsequent surge in traffic temporarily broke my blog.

May 

A week after the London Marathon I felt ready to run again. I guess that walking the majority of the 26.2 miles had some advantages… Not following a training plan for the first time in 2016 was great, and in an attempt to rediscover my running mojo I decided to focus on running shorter distances.

hill-west-runPosing with the smallest medal in the world after completing the Hill West 10k

The highlights of May were running consistently and completing the Hill West 10k in the not too shabby time of 62:18. I met Matt for the first time; it was great to put a face to the twitter name! Looking back, if I ignore the fact I celebrated (?) my 37th birthday, May was a great month.

June

June was a month of running ups and downs. At the start of the month I had a really enjoyable 8.5 mile run around Sutton Coldfield, and completed the Great Midlands Fun Run in a respectable (for me) time. When the official results were published I discovered that I’d somehow knocked 30 minutes off my 2015 time! Unfortunately, due to a slightly forgetful friend I didn’t make it to the start line of the Aldridge 10k and wasted more money on race entry fees. The following Saturday evening I enjoyed a few too many beers, and the next morning had to drop out of the Race for Life at the end of the first lap. Recording my first ever ‘DNF’ made me briefly question my commitment to running.

July

July saw the start of my Great Birmingham Run training and my progression towards feeling more like a ‘real’ runner; the walking breaks were finally eliminated from my training runs! I decided to write weekly Great Birmingham Run training updates – apologies if I bored you to tears – in an attempt to make myself more accountable. Although I didn’t complete any organised races during July, I successfully negotiated the first few weeks of my half marathon training and managed to remain injury free.

August 

My half marathon training continued and I somehow managed to run continuously for over an hour. Both my fitness and my confidence levels were increasing, the half marathon training plan was working. I discovered my love of early morning, and will never forget watching the sunrise during some of my long Sunday morning runs.

parkrun-20-08-2016I’d probably run faster if I actually opened my eyes…

Although I didn’t enter any official races, I finally made it back to Walsall Arboretum parkrun and completed the 5k distance in 28:05. Although I enjoyed running with others, I had got used to my early morning runs and running at my own pace. All in all, August was great!

September 

At the start of the month I completed the more challenging than I had remembered Lichfield 10k. Although I finally managed to bag myself a sub-60 minute 10k, I ran like a plonker and was reminded of the importance of running my own race at my own pace.

lichfield-10kBefore the wheels fell off at the Lichfield 10k

My half marathon training progressed well and I found running for almost two hours both enjoyable and relatively easy. I set out a series of gold, silver and bronze half marathon time goals, and after running 130 kilometres during September, looked forward to the start of my half marathon taper.

October 

One event – the Great Birmingham Run – dominated my thoughts and training during the first half of October. I successfully completed a two hour training run and then caught Freshers’ Flu. Fortunately, my dose of the lurgy coincided with the beginning of my half marathon taper, and I felt more or less fully recovered as I stood shivering in the rain waiting for the Great Birmingham Run to start. The race itself didn’t exactly go to plan… I set out far too fast, ran out of steam at 8 miles, walked more than I ran, was unable to run down any of the numerous hills and hobbled across the finish line in tears.

great-birmingham-runRun a half marathon they said, it will be fun they said…

The highlight of the day was bumping into Matt in the chaos at the finish and getting a lift home. Matt’s kindness meant that I avoided travelling home on an overcrowded train. Thanks again Matt. I got home, had a shower, ate three packets of crisps, drank far too much Diet Coke, sulked and wrote a detailed race review. I sulked some more, reflected on what went wrong, hid my trainers and made myself take a break from running. A couple of weeks later I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon. Cambridge has to be less undulating and more knee friendly than Birmingham.

November

Although November has always been my least favourite month – I’m not a fan of the dark afternoons and evenings – I was determined to adopt a positive attitude. After finally drawing a line under the Great Birmingham Run, I was looking forward to getting back into some sort of routine and starting my Cambridge Half training. I completed a short run at the start of the month and felt like I could have carried on running for hours. Unfortunately, later on that day I started to feel unwell and the toilet became my best friend. Thanks to norovirus I was unable to run for a couple of weeks due to a complete lack of energy, the Birmingham MoRun was yet another ‘DNS’. At least I started my Cambridge Half marathon training feeling very well rested and niggle-free!

December

I’ve just worked out that I’ve run the not so impressive total of 5 kilometres so far during December. The combination of a niggly right knee, the lurgy and working 40+ hours a week in retail has resulted in me completely losing my running mojo. I’ve treated myself to colourful running gear I don’t really need, entered a couple of 10k races, looked at my medals from this year and charged my Garmin. For some reason I just don’t want to run at the moment. I’m starting to think that I should listen to my body and hide my trainers for the remainder of the year.

Perhaps it’s time for me to think about my running goals for 2017? One should be to reduce the amount of times I wear purple running gear.

monthly-distancePerhaps I should just ignore November and December!?

After all, if I ignore the last couple of months, 2016 has been my most consistent year of running in almost a decade. According to Strava I’ve run exactly 700 kilometres during the year, I’ve decided I quite like the number 700.

Do you have any running or health and fitness goals for 2017? At the moment my running goals are to run more consistently, to manage my knee and foot niggles and to hopefully run 1000 miles. As for health and fitness goals, I’m planning on cutting down on the amount of Diet Coke I consume.

Finally, a slightly random question… do you have a favourite colour? Purple isn’t actually my favourite colour!

August review

I can’t believe that it’s September already! For some reason I always associate September with new beginnings and the end of summer. I guess it’s because the school and academic year started in September. Anyway, I’m waffling. As you know since the beginning of the year I’ve been producing monthly summaries of my training. I’ve also shared some of my experiences as a not very influential Birmingham-based running blogger.

What worked well? What – if there were any – were my running related achievements? What would I do differently given the opportunity? I then like to look ahead to the new month.

Increasing my mileage

When I started my half marathon training I was determined to leave my run-walk-run addiction behind me. On Sunday I ran continuously for over an hour. The only time I stopped running was to have a drink. By not overestimating my fitness levels and by selecting a 16-week beginner’s half marathon training plan, I’ve finally rediscovered my love of running.

Although I didn’t complete any races in August, I finally made it back to my local parkrun at Walsall Arboretum. Although I really enjoyed running with others, I realised that I’m equally happy running on my own at my own pace.AugustAccording to my Strava statistics I completed 16 training runs during August covering a distance of approximately 76 kilometres, quite an increase from July. I successfully completed weeks 6 to 10 of my half marathon training plan and discovered that I’m definitely an early morning runner.

Running costs

Although I managed to spend £70.99 on running related purchases during August, for the first time in 2016 I avoided buying running gear I don’t need. Progress!

I spent £64.00 on a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers, £2.50 on a second-hand running injuries book and £4.49 on a tube of ibuprofen gel. I think that most runners will agree that these were all essential purchases.

I also finally found the time and the motivation to list some of my unwanted running gear on eBay. Everything sold and I made enough money to cover the cost of my new trainers.

Blogging experiences

My blogging mojo returned during August and I enjoyed writing my series of weekly half marathon training review posts. I just need to improve my selfie taking skills or even better, find a friend willing to take the occasional photo of me pretending to run. I also need to work out why WordPress suddenly won’t let me respond to comments on my blog.

I was offered payment in return for a sponsored post for the first time. I turned down the opportunity as I don’t want my blog to become a series of sponsored posts. I also have no idea what a blog post is worth.

I was sent a couple of slightly unusual products to review – I’ve clearly got a reputation as an injury-prone runner. I wonder why!

Looking forward to September

Although my half marathon training has been going really, really well *touches wood* – I’m slightly nervous about the prospect of running for almost two hours in three weeks’ time. Hopefully my right knee and left foot will cope with the increased mileage and longer Sunday runs…Weeks 13 and 14I’m also looking forward to volunteering at the 5 mile run my running club organises on Sunday. Hopefully I won’t be put on car parking duty again… I’m also looking forward to the Lichfield 10 km on September 11th. After studying the course I’m quietly confident I’ll complete the distance in under an hour.

Finally, I’m determined to make some money by selling my unwanted running gear on eBay. I’m only going to allow myself to spend money on race entries. On Monday evening I’m attending a social event at Up and Running in Birmingham. I’m definitely going to have to leave my purse at home.

I know that I’m going to find running for two hours mentally challenging. Does anyone have any longer run survival tips?

Great Birmingham Run training week 8

Thanks for all of the lovely comments on my last training update blog. My family and friends don’t really understand my slight obsession with running, so your comments really helped motivate me as I approached the halfway stage of my half marathon training.Collage 20

I ended the seventh week of my half marathon training with a challenging 55 minute run. Fortunately, week eight of my training plan consisted of a taper and 5 km time trial. Week eight consisted of rest days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – have I mentioned how much I love rest days, a 20 minute run on Tuesday and a 10 minute run on Thursday. The plan recommended that I complete a 10 minute run on Saturday before attempting a 5k time trial on Sunday. I switched around Saturday and Sunday’s training sessions so that I could make it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun for the first time since February!

Monday – Rest

I love Monday rest days! I spent the morning putting the various bits of unwanted running gear I’d sold on eBay the previous evening into jiffy bags. Although I did my best to avoid the busier lunchtime period, I was not very popular with some of the other customers at the local Post Office. If looks could kill, my half marathon training would have ended on Monday. On a more positive note I’d made enough money to buy myself another pair of Brooks Adrenalines. Evidently my feet have an expensive taste in trainers.

Tuesday – 20 mins steady

My alarm woke me up at 05:30 and I immediately thought “sod it”. After lying in bed weighing up the various pros and cons of morning versus lunchtime runs, I eventually dragged myself out of bed at 06:15 and was more or less ready to run 15 minutes later. Although the sky was blue and it was really sunny, it was also pretty cold. As I felt great I decided to attempt my slightly more challenging two-mile route. As per usual the first five minutes or so of the run were challenging, however, once I’d warmed-up and settled into my stride I found the remainder of the run quite easy. Week eight had got off to a positive start.

Wednesday – Rest

Another rest day, I love this training plan. I spent the morning working on my rivers of the Anthropocene paper, if you haven’t read about the Anthropocene I wouldn’t bother unless you want to feel really, really depressed. I also wrote a quick review of the Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers Brooks had very kindly sent me earlier this year. The Adrenalines are great – I just wish that they weren’t so expensive. Hopefully the GT 17s will be released soon. In the afternoon I changed into some of the gym gear I’m not brave enough to wear in public, and completed the majority of Oiselle’s Dirty Dozen core routine.

Thursday – 10 mins steady

Once again I found running for 10 minutes both mentally and physically challenging. My breathing was all over the place and I really struggled to complete the training run. I felt tired when I finished, and as I walked back home I somehow managed to jar my fragile left foot. Fortunately, my foot appeared to feel slightly better after I’d iced it. Being a hypochondriac and a runner is a nightmare!

Collage 21

Once I’d decided that my left foot wasn’t broken, I decided that I was well enough to travel down to London. The train journey was uneventful and I met up with my friend in Marylebone. I managed to convince my non-sporty friend to watch the final stages of the men’s triathlon. The Brownlee brothers were absolutely bloody amazing. We had a couple of pints in the Gun Makers and then headed across to Pizza Express on Regent Street. Watching several groups of runners run past made me realise just how much I missed training with my running club.

Friday – Rest

After leaving my friend at Waterloo station – there may have been some tears on the main concourse – I spent an unsuccessful hour or so trying to track down a pair of Women’s Adrenalines in a size 9. I tried four different running shops and was offered more expensive Transcends, Adrenalines in a size 8 and a couple of pairs of Men’s Adrenalines. I was reminded why I do most of my shopping online.

Saturday – 5k race or time-trial

Although it was dark, wet and windy when I woke up and I felt really tired, I forced myself to get out of bed and into some running gear. After a slightly stressful journey, I had finally made it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. I quickly discovered that I’d forgotten how to run in anything other than first gear. I tried to speed up but couldn’t. I eventually finished in a not very impressive 28:05. Last year I would have been happy with a sub-30 minute parkrun, on Saturday I was disappointed that I was unable to get nearer that elusive sub-25 minute time.   Collage 22

I spent the afternoon working my way through the mountain of washing that had accumulated during the week and preparing some more listings for eBay. I discovered that Sweatshop had some Adrenalines in my size on sale for £80 and used my parkrun discount to get the price down to £64. Slightly cheaper than the £100 to £110 they would have cost me in London.

Sunday – 10 mins very easy jog

When I eventually got out of bed at 08:00, I discovered that my right knee was feeling quite painful. Fortunately I only had to complete a 10 minute jog, so I decided to see if I could actually run. I got changed into some running gear, drank a glass of milk, did some stretches and headed out the door. It was a typical August morning – cold, wet and windy. I walked for a couple of minutes and then started to jog. As my right knee felt okay and was actually functioning as a knee, I decided to speed up. Less than ten minutes later I’d completed week eight of my half marathon training.

So that’s the eighth week of my half marathon training completed. I can’t believe that I’ve managed to reach the halfway stage of my training without too many major injury scares. Once again I was reminded that hills are not my friend and that I need to slow down.

Next week’s training schedule contains four runs and is described as the second “building phase”. Slightly scary! I’ve got to complete a 10 minute run tomorrow, a 35 minute run on both Wednesday and Friday and a 65 minute run on Sunday. After feeling so knackered after running for 55 minutes last Sunday, I genuinely have no idea if I’ll be able to run for 65 minutes.

Training totals

  • Runs: 25
  • Time: 8 hours 35 mins
  • Distance: 87.06 kms

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 28:05
  • 10 km: TBC during week 12

Niggleometer

  • Left foot: 5/10
  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Calf muscles: 2/10

Do you buy your trainers in-store or online? I used to buy all of my trainers from a local specialist running store but now I’m skint I tend to look for the best deals online.

Do you tend to run on your own or with other people? Although I love running on my own I’m already looking forward to returning to my running club in October.

 

February review

This year I’ve decided to produce a short summary of my training at the end of each month. I want to look at the positives and negatives of my training. My review of January is available here.

What worked well? What were my running related achievements? What would I do differently given the opportunity? I’ll then draw a line under each month and look ahead to the next month.

Winter miles, summer smiles

In February a combination of the lurgy and a random foot niggle meant that I managed to run the not very impressive total of 20 miles. I completed six runs and spent just over three hours running around the streets of Four Oaks, the local athletics track, and Walsall Arboretum. Once again I’ve created a summary of my training runs using the Sisu website.

February 2016

The highlight of February was finally achieving a parkrun personal best time of 27:49 at Walsall Arboretum. Consistent and structured training really does work!

Another highlight was raising 25 per cent of my £500 London Marathon fundraising target for Samaritans. Only another £375 to go. A huge thanks to everyone who has sponsored me. You know who you are!

Although there weren’t any real low points, not attending the Leadership in Running Fitness course was disappointing.

Running costs

February was a relatively cheap month. I bought some Boots ibuprofen gel (£5.99) for my foot. The gel made no difference. I won’t waste my money again. I also purchased a personalised Walsall Arboretum parkrun t-shirt (£27.50) and some Bridgedale running socks (£18.97).

So much for not buying any more running gear!

Looking forward to March

The first week of March will see me complete my first official race of 2016. I’m really looking forward to pulling on my Club vest and to running around the Cannock Chase trails on Saturday morning.

I’m also looking forward to finally making the transition from running in Brooks Transcends to Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers. March will see me complete two contrasting 10K races; the Mash March Madness in Cannock Chase and the 7 Pools Run in Sutton Park. I can’t wait to test out my trail shoes in the Sutton Park mud!

Finally, there is also the small challenge of me swimming 1.5K for Swimathon.

Here’s to a successful (and hopefully injury free) March!