Returning to running after a knee injury and aZengear compression review

I hope that everyone is having an amazing week; at least it’s almost the weekend. I think I’ve just about recovered from a slightly traumatic interview yesterday lunchtime. I think the expression ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ quite accurately described what happened.

I don’t want to put some sort of random ‘injury curse’ on myself, but after almost two months of no running and a lot of knee strengthening exercises, I think that I’m ‘up and running’ again.

With apologies for the randomness, this quote sums up why I’ve missed running so much:

“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”
– Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl 

Although I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake, since the day I DNS the London Landmarks Half, I’ve eaten far, far too much unhealthy food. I’ve also developed an unhealthy post-work drinking habit. I was definitely using my injury as an excuse to overindulge. Let’s just say the scales don’t lie. The healthier regime starts once I’ve celebrated(!?) my 40th birthday at the beginning of May. I’m pretty sure that most 40-year-old women don’t pop into McDonald’s every Sunday evening.Unhealthy choicesWhen I was unable to run, I spent a bit of far too much time thinking about all of the running injuries I’ve had. In my first ever post way back in March 2013 I described myself as an incredibly injury-prone runner. I seem to spend most of the time trapped in a running injury cycle. I wasn’t able to find out what happened to Small Town Runner – hopefully, they haven’t retired from running due to injury – but this running injury cycle diagram is pretty accurate.Running Injury Cycle

[Source]

If I remember and if people are interested, I’m going to blog about how I went back to basics to hopefully break my own personal running injury cycle. Let’s just say, I was a little embarrassed when I realised that I’d been working a short walk from a sports injury rehabilitation centre since last January. Not one of my finest moments.

Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been running for 15-20 minutes two or three times a week. I’ve left my Garmin behind as I didn’t want to compare my running to this time 12 months ago. Although *touch wood* my knee seems to be coping, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take part in the three 10k events I’ve entered in May.

Now that I’ve finished complaining about my knee and self-inflicted weight gain, I’m going to quickly review a couple of products I’ve been testing. I hope you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

aZengear Compression review

At the start of March, Emily one of the co-founders of aZengear, contacted me after reading this blog. Emily wanted to send me some free samples for review. I agreed as I enjoy working with and hopefully increasing the awareness of slightly lesser known brands. As I already own far too many pairs of compression calf sleeves, I opted for a pair of compression socks and a compression knee sleeve. My right knee was incredibly niggly at the time, so I thought it would be really interesting to see if the knee sleeve helped my knee.

Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across aZengear Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s a very quick introduction to the brand.

A quick introduction to aZengear Compression

aZengear is a UK startup for compression gear for sports, travel and daily wear. The co-founders mission is to design and manufacture compression gear products that contribute to healthy living and make a difference in people’s lives.

The aZengear product range currently includes:

  • Graduated compression socks for sports and travel
  • Compression calf sleeves for running
  • Plantar fasciitis socks
  • Compression knee sleeves for running, squats, weightlifting and arthritis

The compression socks and knee sleeve were well packaged and arrived promptly. Both items came with a Read Me First card which provides information about a 30 day warranty and bonus, wash and care instructions and contact details in case there are any issues with the product. I wish more brands provided the same information.

Compression Knee Sleeve

According to aZengear’s website, if you suffer from intermittent or constant knee pain, their compression knee sleeve will provide immediate joint pain relief, improved blood circulation and muscular recovery. The knee sleeve is described as being perfect for a range of sports and activities, the infographic below provides more information. knee-sleeve-infographic-900x900

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I think it’s safe to say that my recent knee injury meant that I thoroughly tested the compression knee sleeve. So, first things first, did the knee sleeve fit? I’m pleased to report that for once I managed to send the correct measurements to a compression gear brand. The last knee brace I wore was a far too tight behind my knee and felt uncomfortable after I’d been wearing it for a while. I didn’t have any issues with the aZengear knee sleeve, it felt reasonably comfortable and the material didn’t cause any unwanted skin reactions.

As my right knee wasn’t coping very well with the two mile walk to and from the office – walking down the steps on Wallingford Bridge to the Riverside Park was a painful experience – I wore the knee sleeve five days a week. I found the knee sleeve the perfect length and just the right level of compression. It didn’t slide down my leg and remained in place all day. Finally, I think I need to point out that with the exception of short sprints across main roads, I haven’t run in the compression knee sleeve.

Graduated Compression Socks

aZengear describe their graduated compression socks as being perfect for those who are on the move. The socks are described as being a great fit for a range of people including runners, nurses, hikers, cyclists and those suffering from varicose veins, DVT or recovering after surgery. The socks are described as being reliable, stylish, affordable and most importantly, effective. Once again, I’ve included an infographic in order to provide more information. pink-sock-on-white-900x900

[Source]

Once I’d realised that there wasn’t a dedicated left and right sock, the graduated compression socks were fairly easy to put on the first time I wore them. I was little surprised to discover they were so long they almost covered my knees. I have longer than average legs so this made a refreshing change, however, shorter runners may find that the socks are too long.aZengear compression socksI’ve worn the compression socks during and for an hour after the majority of my post-knee injury training runs. I genuinely believe that wearing the socks has helped my gradual return to running. The socks provide a good level of compression, my calf muscles have been completely niggle free and my legs have felt amazing. The only minor complaint I have with the compression socks relates to the thickness of the material they are made from. I guess I’m just used to running in thin socks as these compression socks make my trainers feel slightly too tight.

The washing machine test

I’m repeating myself, again, but one of the reasons it takes me a while to publish my product reviews is that I like to wear and to wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. I’m still a little traumatised about my first ever Lululemon purchase. Having an injury which has prevented me from running also slowed down the review process! I’m pleased to report that the knee sleeve and the compression socks passed the washing machine test.

The Verdict

So, would I recommend aZengear compression to other runners? Yes, I would. The knee sleeve and graduated compression socks all felt comfortable when I wore them. I think that the knee sleeve helped to support my dodgy knee during my walks to and from work; I genuinely believe that it aided the recovery of my knee. The graduated compression socks appear to have helped my calves as I’ve made a return to running, I’ll definitely be wearing them as I increase my weekly mileage.

**Full disclosure: aZengear compression sent me a knee sleeve and a pair of graduated compression socks for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I wore the knee sleeve underneath my work trousers, I forgot to take any ‘action’ photos. The infographics in this review were taken from aZengear’s website. As always all opinions are my own**

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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!

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 8

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’ve taken today and tomorrow as annual leave as I need to finish a slightly overdue academic paper.Collage 20Week eight of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 45 minute run on Wednesday, a 5km time trial on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. With only four weeks until race day, I wanted to have a solid week of training.

So how did I cope during the eighth week of my half marathon training? Did my knee niggle turn into an injury? Did I allow ‘real life’ to get in the way of my training? Did my running mojo return?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

I found myself in the office for the first time in what felt like ages. It’s probably a good job I wasn’t on leave or working from home because the whole building was incredibly quiet due to the combination of half term and training courses. The peace and quiet meant that I managed to complete a couple of technically challenging pieces of work I’d been putting off.

The plan had been for me to help a colleague fix her shed roof after work. Unfortunately, or should that be fortunately, it rained quite a lot during the afternoon which meant it was too wet to do anything outside. We both headed into town after work to buy some housewarming presents. We had some nibbles and then popped into the Old Post Office for a couple of drinks. I felt like I could have run afterwards, but I didn’t want to risk running for half an hour after drinking two pints of quite gassy lager.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

The walk into the office seemed to take twice as long as normal, possibly because I kept stopping to take random photos. The weather was gorgeous; quite chilly to start with but sunny, it definitely felt like spring had made an appearance.

Wallingford TuesdayWork was a little challenging at times but the day seemed to fly by. One minute I was logging into my computer, the next it felt like it was time to head home again. Most definitely my kind of day! I got back to my lodgings and spent an hour chilling out while catching up on Casualty. Thanks to an accidental(?) nap, I almost left it a little too late to run. I’d like to say that I found the half-hour run easy, however, thanks to my inability to pace myself sensibly, I found the final 15 minutes of the run quite tricky.

Wednesday – 45 mins steady Rest

Looking back, I can’t actually remember what happened at work on Wednesday, clearly nothing very out of the ordinary or worth writing about. I left the office at a sensible time with a colleague and we popped into The Old Post Office for a quick drink. We somehow found ourselves back in the Delhi Brasserie restaurant enjoying a curry and another pint. I felt so full after my meal there was no way I could have run, even walking back to my lodgings was challenging.

Thursday – Rest

I worked in Reading in the morning because I needed to travel into London at lunchtime. I’d booked the afternoon off as flexi as I’d been invited to the unveiling of Geoff’s portrait at my old university. Definitely one event I didn’t want to be late for. I left Reading at lunchtime and reached Paddington 30 minutes later, so much faster than travelling from Brum! I decided to walk from Paddington to Baker Street. London felt incredibly busy, I guess spending a year in Wallingford means I’m not used to crowds! I reached Baker Street, collected a chess book for a friend, and then headed to The Barley Mow. Thanks to a drunk bloke who didn’t seem to understand the word ‘no’ I didn’t have the relaxing pint I’d planned.Collage 21I quite literally escaped from the pub and went for a quick wander around Marylebone. I found walking past some of my old haunts quite upsetting; virtually every pub and restaurant I used to visit with Geoff had either closed or completely changed. I got to the university and met up with a couple of my old hydrology lecturers. I didn’t know what to expect, but the portrait unveiling was quite informal with a couple of speeches. I chatted to the few people I knew, enjoyed a couple of glasses of university red wine and then headed to Paddington. I got back to Wallingford at 21:00 and somehow found myself in the Boat House pub enjoying a relaxing pint. Cheers Geoff.

Friday – Rest 45 mins steady

After a slightly unsettled night, I felt more than a bit peaky when I woke up. Fortunately, I felt a lot better after the 40 minute walk into the office. I’ve decided that I’m going to give up alcohol for Lent. My liver and bank account will both definitely appreciate a bit of a break. Following a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later.

Usually, I get home, order a Chinese and eat it while I watch Chicago Fire. On Friday I got home and immediately changed into some running gear. I knew that if I sat down, I wouldn’t have the willpower to head out and run. Running back in Four Oaks felt great, nothing beats running along well lit pavements. I experienced a bit of what I call ‘half term heckling’ but nothing too serious. The 45 minute run felt reasonably easy, and before I knew it, I was I tucking into an enjoyable Chinese.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

How amazing was the weather on Saturday? Once the fog finally cleared, it felt like early summer rather than late February, slightly worrying if you ask me. I didn’t make it to Sutton Park parkrun, I did, however, have an incredibly productive day at home. I listed and sold a load more unwanted running gear on various Facebook selling groups. If I’m not careful, I won’t have anything left to wear this summer. At least I found my hydration vest while I was in the attic. I spent three hours gardening and definitely overdid it a little as my right wrist started to hurt again. I’m not sure of the events of the week suddenly caught up with me, but I went to bed for an afternoon nap, and woke up three hours later still feeling quite groggy.

Sunday – 110 mins jog 70 mins jog

As I wanted to avoid the random February ‘heat wave’ I set my alarm for the slightly unsociable time of 05:30. When I looked outside and saw how foggy it was, I almost headed straight back to bed. I gave myself a major talking to, got changed into some running gear, managed a productive loo visit, drank a pint of water and headed out the door.

It was freezing and incredibly foggy; perhaps not the best of conditions for an asthmatic runner with dodgy eyesight. I actually ran into a wheelie bin that had been left in the middle of the pavement, not my finest moment. I made sure that I ran at what felt like an unnaturally slow pace, this seemed to work quite well as I reached 50 minutes of running feeling great. In typical stupid Emma style, I inadvertently increased my pace and started to struggle. One minute I felt great, the next minute I felt terrible. I made it to 70 minutes and am a little ashamed to admit that I decided to call it a day.

So much for nailing one of my longer runs. To make matters worse, I received an email from the race organisers reminding me there was one month to go. Arraagghhhh!One month to goSo that’s week eight of my half marathon training not very successfully completed. I think I possibly let real life and the pub get in the way of my training. At the moment, I can’t imagine completing a half marathon in less than four weeks time.

Week nine of my half marathon training plan looks achievable, I just need to make sure that I prioritise running over drinking. I’ve got to complete a steady 40 minute run today, a 45-50 minute steady run on Wednesday, an easy 20 minute jog on Saturday – I must remember to check the parkrun roster – and a longer two hour run on Sunday. I’ve no idea if my right knee will allow me to run for a couple of hours. I need a decent longer run to give me a bit of confidence.

Training totals

  • Runs: 15
  • Time: 11 hours 22 mins
  • Distance: 63.89 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right wrist: 4/10

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine during the weekend? It feels a little strange to be wearing sun cream in February.

Have you ever run into something while you are running? I’m pleased it was so early no one saw me run straight into a wheelie bin.

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.

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.