Cambridge Half Marathon training week 9

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to complete a 12 mile run. I’m feeling far too chirpy for a Monday morning because thanks to a lack of direct trains between Birmingham and Oxford last night, I decided to book the day off work.Collage 24Following an incredibly tiring Monday – heading to bed at midnight on Sunday wasn’t sensible, I completed a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a slightly delayed 50 minute easy run on Thursday and only managed to do 20 minutes of cross-training on Friday. I completed my second parkrun of the year on Saturday and spent a couple of hours running around Four Oaks early yesterday morning.

In addition to running four times, I walked the mile or so to and from the office every day. Most mornings it was freezing. All the extra exercise means I’m feeling a lot fitter and ready for the half marathon next month.

I just have to hope I don’t pick up a random injury between now and the start of March!

Monday – Rest

The combination of running 10 miles on Sunday morning and not getting to sleep until almost 01:00 left me feeling shattered on Monday. Getting out of bed at 07:00 was challenging, and I suspect I did an accurate impression of a zombie while I was in the office. Looking back I’ve got no idea how I made it to 17:00 without an afternoon nap. Fortunately, the walk home in what felt like Arctic conditions woke me up. After a quick trip to Waitrose – Wallingford is too posh for cheaper supermarkets, I spent Monday evening catching up on some of my favourite blogs and responding to blog-related emails.

Tuesday – Rest

Last week, I failed to complete my 50 minute easy run on Tuesday because I was feeling absolutely shattered. This week, I failed to run on Tuesday evening because I ended up having a couple of pints with one of my housemates in the Boat House.Collage 25I didn’t feel too guilty about missing my run, as my niggly right knee definitely seemed to appreciate the extra rest day. I also really enjoyed getting to test out one of the many pubs in Wallingford. The walk back in the snow was an added bonus.

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

On Wednesday morning, I was reminded why drinking on a ‘school night’ isn’t very sensible. Getting out of bed was difficult and by lunchtime I was seriously flagging. Completely missing my lunch break because I had to travel to Reading for a meeting probably didn’t help. Fortunately, the walk home woke me up, and when I said I was going to give training with Run Wallingford a miss, my housemate offered to come running with me. Although the cold weather and my housemates pace made the run challenging, I enjoyed running with someone else and getting to see more of Wallingford.

After returning from my run, I prepared my lunch, remembered to get my PPE together ready for spending the day doing field work, set my alarm for a slightly unsociable time and went to bed at a sensible time.

Thursday – 50 mins easy

Thursday was long and quite tiring. I spent all day doing fieldwork and think I overdosed on fresh air. At least I finally got to see some rivers! Thanks to traffic on the M4 and some ‘navigation issues’ on the way into Reading, I didn’t get home until almost 19:00.Collage 26To be honest, I felt so shattered, I didn’t feel like running. I rather reluctantly changed into some running gear and headed out before I could change my mind. The actual run was fine but hard work, possibly because I hadn’t had anything to drink or eat since lunch! I bumped into a group of runners and discovered they were from Wallingford Triathlon Club. I got home, made myself something to eat, made sure I’d packed everything I needed for a long weekend at home, had a shower and headed to feeling exhausted.

Friday – 20 mins cross-training

As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when one of my housemates woke me up at 05:00. Fortunately, my day improved when I discovered that I’d got a place in one of my bucket list races – the Royal Parks Half – on my seventh attempt. When I spotted the ‘congratulations’ email I thought there had been a mistake. I managed to escape the office at 15:00 and got home three hours later. I should have completed a 50 minute cross-training session but felt so shattered I only managed to spend 20 minutes walking up and down the stairs at home.

Saturday – Walsall Arboretum parkrun

I enjoyed parkrunning so much two weeks ago, I was thrilled when I convinced my friend to give me a lift to and from Walsall Arboretum. The weather felt exactly the same as it did a fortnight ago, it was incredibly cold, wet and quite windy. As I arrived at the start with less than a minute to spare, I had to start a little further back than I would have liked. Once I’d managed to navigate my way through the crowds at the start, I increased my pace and was quite pleased when I discovered that I’d finished in 28:44 and had knocked 30 seconds off my previous time.Collage 27The rest of the day was quite not as productive as I’d hoped. As both of my calf muscles were feeling incredibly tight after parkrun, I treated them to a foam rolling session. The pain was pretty intense. I spent the afternoon relaxing and catching up on some much needed sleep. I also paid £60.95 to enter the Royal Parks Half, I’ve got everything crossed I make it to the start line in October!

Sunday – 12 mile long run

Last week, once I’d woken and warmed-up I really enjoyed my 10 mile long run. Unfortunately, yesterdays 12 mile run was anything but enjoyable. My calf muscles felt incredibly tight and didn’t appear to want to warm up. I felt tired, thirsty and under-fuelled and almost stopped running after four, six and eight miles. I felt so nauseous after 10 miles I had to walk for a couple of seconds. To add insult to injury, the route I’d spent ages mapping out turned out to be 11 rather than 12 miles long #muppet

So that’s the ninth and the most challenging week of my Cambridge Half marathon more or less successfully completed.

For some reason, I assumed that week 10 of my half marathon training plan would form part of the taper. Sadly I was wrong! I have a feeling that the rest days on Monday and Thursday will be the highlight of the week. Following Mondays rest day I’m meant to complete an hour long easy run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – if Run Wallingford are actually running I may join them, a 40 minute speed work session on Saturday and another 12 mile long run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 28
  • Time: 21 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 118.48 miles


  • Right heel: 1/10
  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 6/10



Cambridge Half Marathon training week 7

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to convince my friend to drive me to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. After struggling to find suitable places to run in the evening in Wallingford, it felt great to be running in the daylight again.Collage 17Following an incredibly tiring Monday – I’m not convinced I’ve adapted to working in a office yet, I completed my first solo run in Wallingford on Tuesday evening, a 30 minute tempo run on Thursday evening, Walsall Arboretum parkrun and a slightly longer 6 mile run yesterday morning.

Once again, a lack of organisational skills and time on Friday morning meant that I found myself walking up and down the stairs for 50 minutes in the evening. Not ideal after I’d treated myself to a Chinese takeaway.

So how did my fragile feet and knees cope with the demands of the seventh week of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

Fortunately, Monday was an incredibly restful rest day. After a rather eventful bus journey between Oxford and Wallingford, I didn’t arrive back in my room until almost 22:00 on Sunday. I then found it virtually impossible to get to sleep. I can’t remember exactly when one of my housemates decided to make loads of noise in the kitchen by turning on the extractor fan, but I think it was around 05:00. Marvellous! Work was rather challenging mentally as I was tired and thoughts such as “This time yesterday I was running in a snowy Sutton Park” and “This time yesterday I was in Four Oaks” kept going through my mind.

Tuesday – 45 mins easy

Following a busy and rather tiring day in the office, I found myself getting changed into my ‘lucky’ running outfit just before 19:00. Call me superstitious, but I wanted to do as much as I could to make my first solo run in Wallingford a success! Once I’d warmed-up – I suspect my housemates now think I’m slightly strange – I headed out on what should have been an ‘easy’ 45 minute run. Unfortunately, the run itself felt anything but ‘easy’ as I felt both tired and hungry. After less than 10 minutes I realised my legs were not completely recovered from my snowy Sunday morning run. Looking back, I’ve genuinely got no idea how I managed to run for 45 minutes.

Wednesday – Rest

My original plan was to join up with the Run Wallingford group again. I really enjoyed running with a group last week and was looking forward to running in new places and meeting some more people. However, a sneaky peak on Facebook during my lunch break informed me that the group would be completing a circuits session rather than running. As my rather fragile feet and knees didn’t appear to appreciate last week’s burpees and squats, I decided to be brave and to run on my own again. Collage 18After spending most of the afternoon researching potential running routes in the centre of Wallingford, I ended up postponing my run by 24 hours. Without going into too much detail, I discovered something else my temperamental stomach can’t tolerate. Next time I see anything containing chickpeas I’ll stay well away, it took my stomach ages to return to normal.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

When I got back from the office at 18:30, I felt so hungry I knew that I would struggle to make myself run. I was about to abandon my 30 minute run for a second time, when I received a text message from my mentor. I can’t share the exact contents of the text message, but I was reminded that I’m healthy and I’m lucky I can run. I got changed into my running gear.

My tempo run was challenging because I was feeling angry and made the mistake of setting out at a far too ambitious pace. I was struggling to breathe after 5 minutes, nearly tripped over after 10 minutes and wanted to walk after 15 minutes. Looking back, I’ve got no idea how I managed to complete my training run. If I feel as unfit as I did during Thursdays 30 minute tempo run, I’m going to struggle to complete the half marathon in March.

Friday – 50 mins cross training

Like last week, thanks to the flexi-time system, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. Unlike last week, I felt shattered and seriously considered not attempting my weekly cross training session. Once I’d had a quick shower and a power nap I felt ready to spend almost an hour walking up and down the stairs at home. I’m not sure why, but I found this particular cross training session more challenging than my 8 mile run on Sunday.

Saturday – Walsall Arboretum parkrun

I should have completed a 40 minute speed work session but decided to head to Walsall Arboretum parkrun for the first time since August. Although it was cold, wet and windy and the start of the course was very crowded, I decided to see if I could run a sub 30 minute 5k. I felt amazing during the first lap, not so great during the second lap and wanted to walk a million times during the third and final lap. As you can imagine, I was over the moon when my text arrived and I discovered that I’d finished in 29:15.Collage 19I’m not sure that spending several hours on a train surrounded by people coughing and spluttering did me any favours, as I started to feel quite peaky on Saturday afternoon. I decided that I probably just needed to sleep for a couple of hours so headed to bed for a power nap. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much better when I woke up, and the rest of my Saturday was rather unproductive. Such a waste of a day.

Sunday – rest

When my alarm woke me at 07:00, I felt so unwell I knew that even attempting to run would be stupid. Much as I hate missing longer training runs, I didn’t want to extend my cold and cough by running. I turned off my alarm and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The rest of my Sunday was a little disappointing as I spend most of the afternoon in bed. Perhaps I should have stayed in Wallingford!

So that’s week 7 of my training for the Cambridge Half Marathon not exactly completed. I’m starting to get a little concerned about my missed training runs. Although I missed my longer run yesterday, I’m really pleased that I finally found the confidence to run in Wallingford alone.

As always, week eight of my half marathon training plan starts with a rest day. I have a feeling that unless I shift this cough/cold Tuesday will also be a rest day. I’ve then got to complete an easy 50 minute run on Tuesday, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday – if Run Wallingford are running rather than circuit training on Wednesday I will probably join them, 40 minutes of speed work on Saturday and a longer 10 mile run on Sunday.

At some stage on Friday, I’ve got to squeeze in an hour’s worth of cross-training. As I don’t think I’ll be returning to Four Oaks, I may well check out one of the gyms in Wallingford after work.

Training totals

  • Runs: 20
  • Time: 13 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 73.62 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10
  • Left calf: 4/10

My running goals for 2018

Firstly, I’d like to wish you all a slightly belated Happy New Year. Here’s to an injury and niggle free 2018.

I’m aware that some people are getting slightly fed up with all the #NewYearNewYou posts circulating on social media. Hopefully, my running goals don’t bore you all to’ve already reviewed 2017 or the year of the DNS in quite a lot of detail. As I’ve now drawn a line under what was, for various reasons, a pretty shitty year for me, it’s time for me to look ahead to 2018 and to set myself some running goals.

Like last year, I’ve decided to set myself some quite challenging but hopefully achievable running goals for the year. After, with one notable exception, I failed to achieve most of last year’s goals, I wasn’t originally going to make my goals for 2018 public. Then I reminded myself that one of my goals as a blogger in 2018 is to be completely honest and open, so I decided to publish this post.

Raise £1000 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust – This is probably my main running related goal of 2018. Fundraising is going quite well at the moment and I’ve got a few events planned to help me hopefully reach my target.

Run 1000 km – I briefly considered setting myself the challenge of running 1000 miles in 2018. A slight twinge from my left foot reminded me that (a) I’m incredibly injury-prone and (b) I only managed to run 208 miles last year. As a result, I decided to be sensible and lowered my expectations a little. I’ve entered the 1000 km in 2018 challenge on Virtual Runner and have set my distance target on Fetcheveryone so that I can monitor my progress.

Complete 10 races – I set myself the same goal in both 2016 and 2017 and failed miserably. Although I only completed a couple of races last year, I’ve already entered several races this year. I’m quietly confident I’ll earn myself a few more running medals this year.

Complete 10 parkruns – I’ve worked out that my new nearest parkrun will be in Didcot, a short bus journey from Wallingford. I’m going to give myself a couple of weeks to get used to working 9-5 again, and then I’ll check out Didcot parkrun.

A sub 8 minute mile – My current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012. While I’m currently struggling to maintain a 10:00 min/mile pace during my training runs, I’d like to lower my mile PB at some point this year, hopefully at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May.

A sub 25 minute 5k – Last year, I completed my only 5k in the not so impressive time of 32:49. I set my 5k PB of 26:49 back in February 2016 when I weighed 10kg less than I do at the moment. I suspect that I’ll find running 5k in under 25 minutes incredibly challenging, but I’m going to give it a go.

A sub 55 minute 10k – After it took me almost 67 minutes to complete the Lichfield 10k in September, I have a feeling that improving my 10k time by over 10 minutes may be asking too much. If I’m still in one piece at the end of April, I’ll enter the flat and fast Vitality London 10,000 and see what happens.

A sub 2:20 half marathon – At the moment *touch wood* my running mojo has returned and training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March is going quite well. While I’d love to achieve this particular running goal during the Cambridge Half, I have a backup race. Injuries and niggles permitting, I’ll be running the Reading Half Marathon a couple of weeks after Cambridge.

Injured runner[Source]

Listen to my niggles – I’m definitely an injury prone runner. Some runners hardly ever seem to get injured; I’m always flirting with the injury bench. As I don’t want to spend another six months feeling slightly envious of other runners, I’m going to continue to listen to and closely monitor my niggles.

Make friends with strength and conditioning – This is one area I’ve neglected in the past. My new office is located a short distance from a gym. I’m going to join the gym and will make friends with strength and conditioning. I’d be pretty stupid not to.

Be slightly more sociable – I set this as a running goal last and failed so spectacularly, I’ve decided to set the same goal again this year. I’ve tracked down a local running group in Wallingford and am looking forward to meeting new runners and hopefully making some new friends. I’m determined to overcome my anxiety and to attend more social runs.

Running simplicity[Source]

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal last year and I’m proud to report that I smashed it. My friend bought me some funky running leggings in the Sweaty Betty sale and Myprotein very kindly sent me a sports bra, running leggings and t-shirt as part of my blogging award prize. Yesterday, I treated myself to some shorts, tops and another sports bra using the £100 voucher Myprotein sent me. So although I’m going to have to buy some new trainers and probably a replacement Garmin at some stage this year, I don’t need to buy anything else.

Have you set yourself any running goals for 2018 or do you prefer to go with the flow?

Do you have any fundraising tips? At the moment I’m planning on organising a quiz night and possibly a virtual run.

2017 Review: The year of the DNS and lessons learned

As 2017 – the ‘Year of the DNS (Did Not Start)’ – is almost over, I’ve decided to review my running highlights, lowest points and lessons learned throughout the year. If you don’t enjoy reading review type posts then I’d recommend that you stop reading now.


After a relatively positive final six months of 2016, I started the year feeling so positive about my running, I decided to share my goals for 2017. Training for the Cambridge Half Marathon was going well and I felt so confident and niggle free,  I entered several local races. And then one morning I got out of bed and discovered that I could hardly walk. A couple of trips to a local physio and a lot of Dr Googling confirmed that I’d got the injury most runners dread; Plantar Fasciitis. Wearing heavy duty safety boots for three months had damaged my right foot.


February was a rubbish month. I failed to get a ballot place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon for the sixth year in a row and I ran the not so impressive total of two miles. This short run confirmed that although I’d spent hours working through various Plantar Fasciitis exercises and stretches, my right heel was not getting any better. I needed to rest and to be patient.


I’ve just checked my running log and discovered that I ran zero miles in March. I resigned from my running club and became an unaffiliated runner for the first time in more than 10 years.

DNSI’m not sure that I agree with this…

I failed to make the start line of two races; the Cambridge Half Marathon and the 7 Pools Run. My weight increased and my mental health started to deteriorate.


April was another month of zero running and looking back, I wonder how I coped. I broke down in the middle of a pub meal when I discovered that I hadn’t been short-listed for my dream job. I’m so embarrassed I still haven’t returned to that pub. I failed to complete my Swimathon challenge and felt terrible for letting the organisers of Swimathon and the BlogSquad down a second time. The City of Birmingham Run was yet another DNS. There was, however, one huge positive in April. My right heel finally started to feel a bit better and walking became a little easier.


At the beginning of May I reached the grand old age of 38 and my right heel felt so much better, I treated myself to a short birthday run. Those two miles felt bloody amazing. Although both the Market Drayton 10k and the Vitality London 10,000 were added to my DNS list.

May 2017Finally starting to enjoy running again.

I started to run 2-3 times a week without the pressure of my Garmin.  At the end of May I ran for an hour and finally started to feel like a runner again.


Although my right heel was occasionally still a little sore, I was given the green light to start running more consistently. At the end of June I updated my running goals and race plans for the second half of the year. I also started training for the Great Birmingham Run in October.


The start of July saw me DNS the Great Midlands Fun Run. I felt a bad because I could have completed the 8.5 mile course but just couldn’t be bothered. Once I’d stopped beating myself up about what I considered a running ‘fail’, I cracked on with my half marathon training. I think my biggest achievement in July was entering the hugely popular Market Drayton 10k while drunk. Although my friends thought I was mad, I was pleased that I persevered as the race sold out the following morning.


My half marathon training continued and I started to feel my fitness levels increase. I rediscovered my love of early morning running and having the pavements of Four Oaks all to myself. I felt so confident I entered the Lichfield 10k. August also saw me complete my only parkrun of 2017 in the slightly disappointing time of 32:49.

Walsall parkrun 2017Heading towards the finish of my only parkrun in 2017.

Although I try to avoid looking back on previous training cycles, I couldn’t believe I was almost 4 minutes slower over 5k than I was in 2016. Towards the end of August I discovered that I’d landed myself a job interview. Like last year, August was a great month, it’s a shame the positivity didn’t last.


At the start of September I completed the Lichfield 10k in 66:52, my slowest ever time for a 10k race. Although I paced myself well, I let the hills beat me and was reminded that I need to work on my mental resilience as a runner.

Lichfield 10kA rare sight in 2017, a post-race medal pose.

I struggled during some of my longer runs and started to doubt myself as a runner. I also started to experience severe headaches; one headache was so bad I ended up spending the night in A&E. September wasn’t all bad as I discovered that I’d finally got a new job.


One event – the Great Birmingham Run – should have dominated my thoughts during the first half of October. However, receiving the devastating news that my close friend and mentor Geoff had inoperable cancer quite rightly meant that running was the last thing on my mind. I felt so unprepared, I almost pulled out of the half marathon. I ended up completing the Great Birmingham Run in a slightly disappointing 2:43:32 and hung up my trainers for the rest of the month. At the end of October I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon and after talking to Geoff, set myself the challenge of raising a shed load of money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.


November has always been my least favourite month. I think the dark mornings and evenings really impact my mental health. After finally drawing a line under the Great Birmingham Run, I made the decision to run for fun and without any time or distance pressures and hid my Garmin. Although I really tried to adopt a positive attitude, I felt like my life was completely out of control and shared my feelings.  The support of the running and blogging communities was a little overwhelming but incredibly helpful. Thank you!


This month has been quite positive. I got to visit Geoff in London and hope to meet up with him before I start my job next month. I started my Cambridge Half Marathon training and *touch wood* my fragile feet are coping with the training plan my running coach friend compiled for me.

Cambridge Half trainingThe start of my Cambridge Half Marathon training.

I discovered that I’d won the fitness category of the Myprotein Blogger Awards 2017 and got through the festive periods without too many tears. Yesterday, I entered a couple of races; The Treehouse 10k and the Wallingford Thames 10k. I can’t wait to explore the Oxfordshire countryside. Finally and most importantly, I managed to raise over £400 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. Not bad for someone with hardly any friends.

I’ve already set myself some running goals for 2018 and can’t wait to challenge myself next year.

2017 runningHopefully 2018 will be far more consistent. 

As a runner, 2017 was an incredibly challenging year. I’m hoping that 2018 is a little more enjoyable and injury free!

What was the running highlight of 2017 for you? I think mine was not completely giving up during the first half of the year.

Do you have any running and fitness goals for 2018? I think my main goals are to remain relatively injury free and to enjoy my running more. Life is short.

Race Report: Great Birmingham Run

I’ll start this post with a bit of a disclaimer. This race report is likely to turn into a bit of an essay. I’ve now had a week to reflect on what happened so will hopefully avoid writing a load of negative waffle. Like last year, the race was reasonably well organised and very well supported – almost too well supported near the finish – I just had a bad day at the office.

Last Sunday I ran completed the Great Birmingham Run. Unfortunately, my race didn’t go to plan.

The night before the race was stress free. I made myself eat a huge portion of Spag Bol and ensured that I drank loads of water. I laid out my running gear and went to bed (alone) at a sensible time.

Running gear

The Great Birmingham Run didn’t start until 13:30 so I didn’t roll out of bed until 08:00. I ate a huge portion of Weetabix and a couple of bananas, drank several cups of tea and spent the next hour faffing around. I felt relaxed – almost too relaxed – and only started to feel my stress levels increase when I discovered that the race number magnets I’d bought were useless. After a couple of failed attempts, I used my ‘lucky’ safety pins and decided that I could live with a wonky race number. I had a shit, shower and (leg) shave, got dressed and packed my bag.

At 10:00 I ate another portion of Spag Bol, drank a large glass of orange nuun, went to the toilet again and was ready to go. I walked to the train station, boarded an extremely busy train, the 400 per cent increase in passenger numbers and lycra seemed to confuse the regular Sunday shoppers, and arrived in Birmingham with plenty of time to spare. I met up with Matt and his friend and after a quick ‘real toilet’ stop, we headed towards the race village.

To the start

Race Village[Source]

Apologies, this is already getting slightly lengthy. We watched a few marathon runners approach the finish, navigated our way through crowds of runners and their supporters to the baggage buses, dropped our gear and found and joined the queue for the portaloos. Fortunately, I timed my final portaloo visit to perfection this year and didn’t start the race needing a wee.

The start area wasn’t very well policed and was slightly chaotic. Like last year, the warm-up was a little farcical and the sun made an unwelcome appearance five minutes before the race started. Thanks to the late start time, I felt far too relaxed and not in what I call ‘race mode’. Judging by some of the conversations other runners were having, I wasn’t the only person feeling far too relaxed.

The race started and I spent the first 10 minutes telling myself I was about to run a half marathon while making a real effort to slow down. Last year I set out at an unsustainable pace and my race was over before it started. Guess what? This year, although my pace was far more sensible, I quickly realised there was no way I could sustain it for 13.1 miles. The first few miles of the Great race are not exactly what I would describe as scenic. Let’s just say, even in broad daylight, I’d avoid walking along some of the streets we ran along.

Although the route improved when we entered Cannon Hill Park, I was already struggling and decided to resort to running for four minutes and walking for a minute. I must have been sleep-running or slightly delirious as I failed to notice two different official race photographers. At least they didn’t capture me during one of my walking intervals!Cannon Hill ParkWe left Cannon Hill Park and completed a lap of Edgbaston Cricket Ground. As a cricket fan this sounded amazing, however, the reality was a little disappointing. We left Edgbaston and headed onto Pershore Road. The half marathon became more challenging here as the course was extremely crowded and we were running directly into the wind. By this stage I accepted that I was having a really bad day at the office, seriously considered dropping out, but decided to carry on. At least I’d get value for money…

At times I felt I was making very little progress. Last year the faster runners heading along Pershore Road in the opposite direction inspired me. This year, they just irritated me and I felt jealous that they’d completed the most of the 13.1 miles and were heading back towards the finish. Sorry faster runners.

The lowest point came when the route took me through an energy gel stop. For some reason, just thinking about consuming an energy gel made me feel incredibly nauseous. I’d just about recovered when the route took us away from Pershore Road and onto Mary Vale Road. The road was like a miniature Mount Everest and I found myself taking an extended walking break. The train waiting at the nearby station looked very enticing.

Mary Vale Road[Source]

Once I’d finished walking up Mary Vale Road I realised we were finally heading back towards the centre of Birmingham and the finish. Happy days. I increased my pace from ‘power walk’ to ‘slow shuffle’ and let gravity carry me past Cadbury Park (I don’t recall seeing Cadbury World) and back onto the main Pershore Road.

The next few miles were uneventful so I won’t go into too much detail. There was a slightly hazardous water station, another energy sapping hill, several collapsed runners receiving treatment at the side of the road – I heard a lot of sirens – and a lot of run walking. Definitely not an experience I want to repeat again.

The hills of Birmingham were alive with the sound of ambulance sirens.


After what felt like a lifetime, I found myself back in the centre of Birmingham. The race organisers clearly don’t like runners much as the final mile was challenging. I power walked up the hill near Moor Street station (the official race photographer captured me at my best) and played dodge the spectators and Sunday afternoon shoppers. A couple of minutes later I spotted the ‘400m to go’ sign and made myself run.

There was no way I was walking in the final 400m.

Finish line

I spotted the finish line, increased my pace and attempted what felt like a sprint finish but was probably more of a hobble. I must have looked a little unwell as I was led towards the medical tent by a marshal. It was carnage inside the medical tent and some of the runners I saw looked seriously unwell. Let’s just say I was pleased I was allowed to leave after only 30 minutes. I rejoined the finish area, collected a goody bag, checked the bag contained the correct medal and navigated my way through crowds of supporters back to the baggage buses. Like last year, security was non-existent and I was pleased to see my bag.

The journey home by train was a nightmare as London Midland hadn’t put on any extra trains to cope with the increased number of passengers. The train was ridiculously busy, boiling hot and less than 10 minutes into the journey a runner collapsed. In the end the train was delayed for almost an hour while we waited for an ambulance. I got home 95 minutes after leaving Birmingham, removed my trainers and assessed my feet, collapsed on top of my bed and fell asleep wearing my stinky running kit. I didn’t even have the energy to investigate the contents of my goody bag.

Medal and tshirt

I’ve now had over a week to reflect on what happened and have stopped sulking about my performance. While I definitely wouldn’t enter the Great Birmingham Run again, I’ve already entered the Cambridge Half in March.

Have you ever had a really disappointing race? Reading feedback on farcebook made me realise I wasn’t the only runner to have a bad day at the office last Sunday.

How do you cope with fuelling for races that start in the afternoon? I have a feeling that the late start caught out a lot of runners.

Great Birmingham Run training week 11

As always, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was the Lichfield 10k. After running on my own for several weeks, running with others was actually far, far more enjoyable than I thought it would be.Collage 27Week 11 of my half marathon training – described as a key week with a time trial – saw me struggle to complete a 20 minute ‘easy jog’ on Monday, swap my Wednesday and Thursday sessions because I felt I needed an extra rest day – my approach worked as I had an awesome 40 minute run on Thursday morning, a 20 minute jog on Saturday and the Lichfield 10k yesterday.

Last year I aimed for and achieved a sub-60 minute time at the Lichfield 10k. Yesterday I was happy just to complete the race without needing too many walking breaks. So how did my fragile left foot and dodgy right knee cope during the eleventh week of half marathon training?

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

When my alarm woke me at 05:30, I reached out, turned it off and woke up three hours later. I clearly needed my beauty sleep. After spending almost an hour faffing about and waiting for the school traffic to die down, I eventually headed out on my run at 09:30. It wasn’t the most enjoyable run as I was wearing too many layers and felt far too warm. I had to dodge people walking dogs, people pushing pushchairs, people running (a lot faster than I was) for the bus and cars blocking the pavement. To make matters worse, I had to stop running twice; once to give way to someone reversing off their drive and once to retie one of my shoelaces. The run left me feeling more than a little mardy.

I spent the rest of the day job hunting and writing. I applied for a very temporary job at my local M&S, passed the first online assessment and booked an interview slot for the following morning. After spending the last two Christmas periods working in the same store, I was fairly confident I’d be offered one of the temporary roles.

Tuesday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day as my legs felt quite sore after my slightly longer run on Sunday and failed recovery run. In the morning I travelled the short distance by train to Sutton Coldfield, had the most informal interview ever and was told to wait for a phone call. I also managed to overcome my slightly irrational phobia of hair salons and booked myself in for a seriously overdue hair cut. I spent the afternoon working on some ideas for an academic paper and writing a product review. I also treated my calf muscles to another session with my foam roller. I’ve decided that I’m so useless at inflicting pain on myself, I would probably benefit from a sports massage.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 40 minute run, but for some reason, when my alarm woke me at 05:00, I just didn’t feel like running. Fortunately, the rest of the day was far more positive and productive. I discovered that I’d got an interview for a hydrology job I’d applied for at the end of August. I hadn’t expected to get an interview so the email was a very pleasant surprise. I vacuumed the house, mopped the kitchen floor, did two loads of washing, listed more rubbish on eBay and completed a couple of job applications. As I was determined to run the following morning I made sure I was in bed before midnight. It’s just a shame I woke up at 02:00 and found it virtually impossible to get back to sleep.

Thursday – 40 mins fast with warm-up and cool-down

I decided to approach my run on Thursday the same way I’ve approached all of my training sessions. After running at a reasonably steady pace for the first ten minutes, I attempted to increase my pace a little. I’ve clearly lost the ability to run at anything faster than 10:00 min/miles as I struggled to progress from first into second gear. I think I only managed to increase my pace to avoid smelly rubbish bins and to cross the main road. I did, however, remember to cool-down so the run wasn’t a complete failure.Collage 28After spending the rest of the day attempting to answer technical competency questions and waiting for a phone call from M&S that never materialised, I headed across Birmingham to the university to collect some books. I may have failed as an academic, but I’m determined to complete the paper I’ve been working on for almost two years.

Friday – Rest

Friday was a reasonably productive but incredibly restful rest day. I only left the house once to pick up a takeaway from the local Chinese – the takeaway was virtually inedible and went straight through me. So much for a Friday evening treat, perhaps my body is now repelling unhealthy food.

Saturday – 20 mins jog

When I looked through the training plan at the start of the week, I was a little surprised to see it included a 20 minute run the day before a 10k time trial. I’m pretty sure you can work out what happened. I completed a 20 minute run rather than a 20 minute jog. So much for taking it easy the day before a 10k race.

Luckily the rest of the day was far more relaxing. I received an email from M&S. Although I’d passed all the assessments, there were no suitable vacancies for me. The email came as a bit of a surprise after my meeting on Tuesday.

In the evening I met up with some friends for a couple of pints. As I was aware I had a 10k race to run the following morning, I made sure that I actually limited myself to two pints. When I got some I spent ages looking for four safety pins, double checked the train times, got my running kit ready and went to bed at a sensible time.

Sunday – 10k race or time-trial

Like last year, I was originally meant to complete an 85 minute longer run at an ‘easy’ pace in week 11. However, after researching local races, I decided to take part in the Lichfield 10k. As I’ll be writing a review of the Lichfield 10k in a separate post, I won’t write an essay here. In summary, it was cool and very windy, I ran with the lady I met last year for the first four miles and then told her to run on ahead, she smashed her PB. The last two miles were a struggle and I needed to stop a couple of times to stretch out my right knee. I need to check out some old race results, but I think I recorded my slowest 10k time ever.

So that’s week 11 of my training for the Great Birmingham Run more or less successfully completed. I got my pacing completely wrong on Monday, couldn’t be bothered to run on Wednesday so gave myself a rest day, had a great run on Thursday, a mediocre run on Saturday and somehow managed to complete the Lichfield 10k without my right knee falling off. At the moment I’m finding it a little difficult to comprehend that in five weeks time I’ll *fingers crossed* have completed a half marathon.

The training schedule for week 12 contains four runs and looks quite challenging. I’ve got to drag myself out for a 20 minute recovery jog at some stage today; hopefully my legs will feel slightly more awake this evening. I’ve got to complete a 55 minute ‘steady run’ on Wednesday morning, another 20 minute run on Saturday and then a longer 85 minute run on Sunday. After my recent issues with pacing and route planning, I need to map out the perfect (i.e. as flat as possible!) route for Sunday. I have a feeling that the rest days on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will feature foam rolling and icing sessions.

Training totals

  • Runs: 36
  • Time: 15 hours 15 mins
  • Distance: 84.77 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52


  • Right heel: 5/10
  • Right knee: 9/10
  • Left foot: 4/10

Rants and raves #17

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest random selection of rants and raves after spending the day in the university library trying to concentrate on a slightly overdue academic paper. I managed to write 500 words in six hours so not the most productive writing session. I’m also experiencing exotic holiday #FOMO as my friend has just returned from Greenland. I can’t wait to see all the holiday photos. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other (far superior) and slightly less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! Once again, I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable week. If your week hasn’t been that great, the weekend is approaching.

Rave: Running

Although having running as a rave for the third time in a row is probably cheating, after complaining about being injured and not running for almost six months, I feel I need to balance out my blog a little.RunningSmiling Grimacing at the top of one of my nemesis hills.

At the moment, my dodgy feet are still *touch wood* coping with my half marathon training. As an added bonus, after struggling for five weeks I’m now starting to feel a little bit fitter. Hopefully my fitness levels will continue to improve.

Rant: Having to enter races months in advance

When I started running, it was possible to turn up and enter the majority of races on the day. Perfect for injury-prone runners. Fast forward to 2017 and a lot of races are selling out within hours of entries opening. While this is good news for race organisers, it’s not so great for runners who pick up a lot of injuries. I’ve recently entered two races several months in advance because I was aware entries would sell out almost immediately. Hopefully I’ll be fit enough to run both races.

Rave: Blogging

After several years of intermittent blogging, I think I’m finally starting to see the benefits of sharing my random running-related thoughts online. Writing about running also seems to help me with my academic writing.

Rant: Wheelie bins

Perhaps the most random rant ever, but like the majority of people living in Birmingham, I’m not a huge fan of wheelie bins at the moment. Unfortunately, the refuse collectors (I’m not sure that the correct term is!) in Birmingham have been on strike for six weeks. This means that in addition to wheelie bins for household waste, gardening waste and mixed recyclables, the pavements in some areas are covered in overflowing bin bags, cardboard boxes and rubbish. Residents have been instructed to leave their bins and extra rubbish at the side of the road. Unfortunately, some people have abandoned their bins in the middle of the pavement.

If I can’t squeeze past a bin when I’m running, I doubt someone pushing a pushchair could get past.BinsI actually had a dream about wheelie bins last night. 

Although the situation isn’t quite as bad where I live in Four Oaks as it is in the centre of Birmingham, the bins haven’t been emptied for a month and the smell is getting quite bad. Apparently the strike could continue for another four weeks. As I’m not very good with ‘smells’, I’ll have to dig out my old BA mask.

Rave: runABC Midlands

After I somehow managed to win an Ultimate Direction hydration pack last year, runABC Midlands has been one of my favourite running magazines. A few weeks ago, I received a message via my blog asking me if I’d like to review one of my favourite local races for runABC Midlands. I said yes (of course!) and answered a few questions about the Lichfield 10k. Hopefully my article will be published and will appear in the August-September issue. I can’t wait to see my race review in print.

Rant: Drivers who don’t indicate

Can someone explain to me why so many drivers don’t seem to know how to use their car indicators? I’m not a mind reader and I don’t have a crystal ball. Seriously though, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve needlessly stopped running to give way to cars at junctions. Apologies for the f-word but I love this meme.Did you know


Finally, don’t get me started on cyclists riding on pavements. I don’t mind children riding their bikes on the pavement, but adults dressed from head to toe in Team Sky kit should be able to ride their Cannondale bikes on the road. Having to dodge wheelie bins, drivers and speedy cyclists is making my running quite stressful at times.

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

Do you find having to enter some races months in advance irritating?

Should more race organisers offer full refunds or the option to transfer your entry if you can’t run?