A parkrun, some cupcakes and a chilled out run in Sutton Park

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m feeling quite chirpy for a Monday morning, probably because I’m on annual leave this week. My half marathon training also started this morning.

I’ll rewind back to Friday evening. I’m not sure why, but I decided to treat myself to a curry from one of my favourite local restaurants; Chennai. My random free starter was quite spicy for me but edible, my chicken korma tasted amazing. After a pretty shitty week, chilling out in front of the TV with a couple of beers and a curry was just what I needed.

I woke well before my alarm on Saturday, went to the loo, had a shower and got ready for parkrun. My stomach felt a bit ‘off’ but I wasn’t overly concerned because I managed a successful loo visit. My friend tried and failed to convince me that parkrun would be cancelled due to the heat. I was determined to complete my tenth parkrun of 2018 so took no notice!

After a typically stressful journey to Walsall Arboretum, I jogged to the start, saw how many people were waiting to run and positioned myself quite near to the front. I was so near the start, I got a little carried away and made the fatal error of running mile one in a far too speedy for me 8:23.

Walsall parkrun 210718

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

By mile two I felt incredibly nauseous and was concerned I was going to be reacquainted with the banana I’d eaten a couple of hours earlier. Evidently eating a curry the evening before, and a banana a couple of hours before a parkrun isn’t a winning combination. I’ve no idea how, but I somehow managed to run mile two in 9:06.

The third and final lap wasn’t pretty. Halfway round the final lap I thought I was going to be sick. So frustrating! I walked for about 10 seconds and then started to run again. Whenever I tried to increase my pace I felt sick, so I kind of slowed down and jogged to the finish.

I crossed the line in 27:52, collected a token and then spent a few minutes lying in the shade feeling incredibly nauseous. The walk back to the car for my traditional post parkrun photo wasn’t much fun. Could we have some rain ASAP please…

Traditional post parkrun pose

The journey home in a boiling hot car with no aircon was even less fun. It was definitely worth it because I managed to ‘tick off’ one of my 2018 running goals. I’m just a little disappointed that I completely failed to make myself run faster.

10 parkrunsAfter a quick lie-down, I nearly pulled a muscle removing my sweaty sports bra. My second shower of the morning made me feel a lot cooler but unfortunately did nothing to shift the nausea. I got dressed and headed into Sutton to collect a birthday presents for my niece Jessica Being the unorganised aunt that I am, I left this until the last minute. I got back from Sutton, wrapped Jessica’s presents and headed across to my brothers house. The journey in mum’s convertible was quite literally refreshing and helped to clear my head.

Bad hair day

My sister-in-law makes amazing cakes and the four cupcakes I consumed definitely aided my recovery. I’m not sure drinking two cans of cider was sensible, but I couldn’t face drinking wine after I accidentally consumed a bottle on Tuesday evening.

I think it’s safe to say that I slept quite well after parkrun, loads of fresh air, cupcakes and cider.

On Sunday morning I walked across to Ellen’s house and we headed into Sutton Park for a run and to catch-up. Although it didn’t feel too hot, it did feel incredibly humid. The first walking break to take some photos was definitely needed.

Sutton Park 1

As was the second…

Sutton Park 2

It was an incredibly relaxed and enjoyable run, just what we both needed. Sometimes I think it’s important to forget about pace and times and to run for fun. As you can imagine, I was over the moon when Ellen spotted an ice cream van near the Jamboree Stone. My emergency £10 – let’s face it buying a couple of ice creams was definitely an ’emergency’ – was put to very good use.

Sutton Park ice cream

I discovered that I can eat an ice-cream and run two miles without any issues, happy days.

The rest of Sunday was as chilled out as our run in Sutton Park and ‘may’ have involved a walk around the Four Oaks Estate, some thinking time, some tears, another curry and a couple of pints.

Four Oaks Estate

After receiving some devastating news on Thursday evening, a quiet, slightly boozy and calorific weekend was just what this doctor ordered.

As I know most of the people who read this blog are parkrunners, which parkrun did you do? Now that I’ve started my half marathon training, my Saturday mornings are going to feel a little empty.

Does the amount you eat ever surprise your family? I’m not convinced mum was overly  impressed when I ate cupcake number four. Never mind!


A parkrun and a half marathon

I hope that everyone had a great weekend, at least Monday is now out of the way and it’s a short week. Apologies for the recent blog silence, life has been quite quiet recently and I haven’t had much to write about.

I had an amazing weekend and after I had to miss Cambridge earlier this month, I finally completed a half marathon run.

On Saturday morning I was woken up at 06:00 by what sounded like someone trying to break into my bedroom window. I looked outside, and realised that the ‘burglars’ were in fact starlings. After trying and failing to get back to sleep, I dragged myself out of bed and got changed into some running gear. I discovered that I’d left my hairbrush and running gloves in Wallingford. Luckily, I have hair that is so fine it doesn’t really need brushing.

The journey to parkrun was as late and as stressful as always. I’m scared to complain because my friend is doing me a massive favour driving me to the Arboretum, but it would be nice to arrive with enough time to warm up, get nearer the front etc.

I made it to the start area just in time for the pre-race briefing and managed to navigate myself a little nearer the front. It still took me 30 seconds to cross the line and my first mile was the slowest as there were limited overtaking opportunities.

Walsall 1[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I felt great throughout the first couple of laps and managed to increase my pace throughout the third and final lap around the lake. I crossed the line in approx 29:04 and was handed token number 211. I was aware that people around me were really out of breath, I felt fine so perhaps it’s time for me to see what happens when I increase my pace. Let’s face it, I’m never going to get a sub-25 time if I take it easy.

I got home, had a quick shower and then headed to the Chase Farm Shop with mother and my stepdad Colin for a late breakfast/early lunch.  By this stage I was feeling rather hungry so I opted for an unhealthy Club sandwich and an extra bowl of chips.Club sarnieMuch to the horror of my mother, I managed to clear my plate in less than 5 minutes. I seriously regretted not ordering a pudding.

The rest of Saturday was incredibly boring. I had loads of housework and washing and ironing to catch-up on. I think the highlight of the afternoon was my new Garmin arriving. I’m easily pleased. As I was aware I would be attempting to run 13.1 miles the next morning, I made myself eat a huge bowl of pasta, kept myself reasonably hydrated and went to bed at a sensible time.

On Sunday morning, I was woken up by my starling friends again at 07:00. I wasn’t due to meet up with Ellen until 09:00 so I had plenty of time to faff around. I made myself eat a banana and a couple of weetabix and drank a glass of orange nuun.

As I walked the short distance to Ellen’s house I realised that we were incredibly lucky as the weather was pretty much perfect for running. It was quite chilly so I wore a long sleeved top – I’d later regret this decision. I also left my water at home.

At 09:00 we set off on the inaugural Four Oaks half marathon. I’d worked out a reasonably ‘hill free’ route around Four Oaks, nothing could possibly go wrong. We both had money and phones so that we could be rescued if needed.

The first couple of miles were easy but I soon realised I was wearing two too many layers on my top half. After running in cold temperatures for so long, I wasn’t used to running in slightly warmer temperatures. I definitely didn’t need a t-shirt, a long-sleeved top and gilet!

The route of the Four Oaks half wasn’t scenic but it was reasonably runner friendly. There weren’t any toilets or water stations and the only support we got was from other runners and people walking their dogs.

Unfortunately, by 10 miles I was really struggling; my mouth felt like the Sahara Desert and I was starting to feel quite woozy. The hill from Mere Green up to All Saint’s Church nearly finished me off. Thanks to Ellen, I just about managed to keep running.

I can’t really remember much of the final 3 and a bit miles, probably not a good sign. With about a mile and a half to go, I’m ashamed to admit that I slowed to a walk. I told Ellen to run on ahead and told her that I’d run walk to the finish. I crossed the imaginary finish line and walked the short distance to Ellen’s house. I can honestly say that the two pints of South Staffs water I knocked back tasted amazing.

IMG_1028We posed for a quick ‘after’ photo, sat down for a couple of minutes and then said our goodbyes.

The mile or so walk back took ages because I was trying and failing to get a decent selfie – I guess the camera doesn’t lie – but definitely helped my legs recover from the run.

Post run selfie

I got home, drank another glass of orange nuun, had a shower and then headed back to bed for a nap. I slept for a couple of hours and woke up much better.

I’ve now had 24 hours to reflect on what went wrong in the final stages of the half marathon. I clearly wore too many layers and didn’t drink enough water. I also felt incredibly underprepared and don’t think I squeezed in enough longer training runs in weeks before. Although the dodgy weather didn’t help, I could have fitted in a few more runs after work.

Now that I’ve completed a half marathon, I feel that I’ve done something to justify the £500 I raised for charity. Once my legs and right knee have recovered, I’m going to focus on slightly shorter distances.  I’m determined to bring my parkrun time down and I’ve entered several 10k races. I’m not very good at conquering hills, so my longer Sunday morning runs will be replaced with shorter, hilly runs.

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 11

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

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

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

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

Thursday – 50 mins easy

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

Friday – 40 mins cross training

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

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

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

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

Sunday – 6 miles steady

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

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

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

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

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

Training totals

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


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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 10

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

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

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – 30 mins tempo

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

Thursday – 10 mins easy

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

Friday – 40 mins torture

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

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

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

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

Sunday – 12 miles long run

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

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

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

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

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

Training totals;

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


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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 6

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

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

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

Monday – Rest

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – Training session with Run Wallingford

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

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

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

 Thursday – Rest

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

Friday – 40 mins cross-training

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

Saturday – 40 mins speed work

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

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

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

Sunday – 8 mile long run

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

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

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

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

Training totals

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


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

Cambridge Half Marathon training week 4

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I’m feeling a little stressed out at the moment because this time next week, I’ll be starting my new job.Collage 8Following an incredibly restful New Year’s Day, week four of my Cambridge Half Marathon training saw me complete a rather challenging and not very ‘easy’ run lasting 40 minutes during Storm Eleanor, a 30 tempo run with incredibly tight calf muscles on Thursday evening, a ‘naked’ 30 minute speed session on Saturday morning and an abandoned longer run yesterday. Due to my lack of gym access, I found myself spending 40 minutes walking up and down the stairs again on Friday.

So how did my fragile body cope during week four of my half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

After my late night six mile run, I started 2018 feeling tired but hangover free. As the weather was pretty depressing all day, I had an incredibly quiet and relaxing New Year’s Day. The perfect rest day and a great start to 2018.

Tuesday – 40 mins easy

I’ve no idea why, but I felt incredibly gloomy when I woke up. I made the mistake of comparing my fundraising with a couple of other runners I follow on social media. This pointless exercise left me feeling like a failure as both a friend and as a fundraiser. I’ve said it before but comparison really is the thief of joy. I cheered myself up a little by ordering some bits and pieces from Myprotein and by writing some running goals for the year ahead.Collage 9I was feeling so sorry for myself; I didn’t head out on my 40 minute ‘easy’ run until the evening when Storm Eleanor had made an appearance. Stupid of me when I know running generally makes me feel better. My calf muscles felt a little tight and niggly to start with, but once I’d warmed up they felt fine. When I got back and checked my Garmin stats, I discovered just how much Storm Eleanor had assisted my run.

Wednesday – Rest

Although Storm Eleanor had helped my run, she also kept me awake most of the night, and I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling tired and incredibly grumpy. I also had such a bad headache I decided to postpone my 30 minute tempo run until Thursday. I spent the morning trying and failing to be productive before I eventually gave up and went back to bed for a quick nap. I woke up a couple of hours later feeling slightly disorientated but headache free. Once I’d woken up a little, I reintroduced my calf muscles to my favourite foam roller. While it wasn’t a very enjoyable experience as I’m useless at inflicting pain on myself, my calf muscles did feel much better afterwards.

Thursday – 30 mins tempo

I had originally planned to get my 30 minute tempo run done and dusted before breakfast. The combination of yet another night of limited sleep – I wish I could stop stressing myself out about everything at 02:00 – and another headache meant that I decided to delay my run until the evening.

After spending most of the day faffing around and making packing lists, I got changed into some running gear and spent an enjoyable 30 minutes or so working through some stretches. My run was anything but tempo paced until I bumped into Ellen, the lady I ran the majority of the Lichfield 10k with last year. Although we only ran together for 15 minutes, it was great to have some company. Ellen definitely made me run faster than I probably would have done.

Friday – 40 mins cross training

Once again I found my 40 minute stair session physically and mentally challenging. The 40 minutes felt like forever, I nearly gave up after 10 minutes and during the final 20 minutes decided that I’d rather be outside running. I had a bit of an injury scare when my right knee started to make a slightly dodgy creaking noise after 20 minutes. I think that I also I managed to break the bottom step. Next week, I’m going to spend the 40 minutes doing something a little more enjoyable.

I was feeling a bit miserable about my niggly knee when I received a text message from my mentor that put everything into perspective. I can’t go into details, but his text prompted me to make an appointment to hopefully give blood on Wednesday.

Saturday – 30 mins speed work

My first attempt at my weekly 30 minute speed work session lasted less than 10 seconds. Even though it didn’t look very cold outside, the pavements were icy and I nearly slipped over a couple of times. I decided to postpone my run for a couple of hours.  Collage 10My second attempt was a little more successful. Following the advice of my running coach, I used my Garmin as a stopwatch rather than as a GPS. I jogged for 5 minutes to get my legs warmed up and then started my Fartlek session. Running ‘naked’ helped take the pressure off and I worked out that I ran approximately 3 miles in 30 minutes, a definite improvement on last week’s rather sluggish speed work session.

Sunday – 1 mile hobble

I made the difficult decision to abandon my 6 mile long run after less than a mile. My right knee felt quite painful and I was aware that I was running like a wonky donkey. I didn’t want my knee niggle to turn into an injury, so I hobbled back home feeling sorry for myself. Once I’d stopped sulking about my aborted run, I spent the rest of the day making packing lists and stressing out about my new job.

So that’s week four of my Cambridge Half Marathon training not completed. That means I’ve only got a house move, a new job, some niggles and another 8 weeks to negotiate.

The fifth week of my half marathon training plan contains four runs and one cross-training session. I’ve got to somehow complete an easy run lasting 40 minutes tomorrow, a 30 minute tempo run on Wednesday, a 30 minute speed work session on Saturday – I’d love to make it to Walsall Arboretum parkrun one last time before I move, and a slightly longer 8 mile run on Sunday. Today and Thursday will be my much needed rest and recovery days, and I suspect that as my friend is away, I’ll be walking up and down the stairs at home for 40 minutes on Friday. I suspect that this cross-training session will be more challenging than some of my mid week training runs.

Training totals

  • Runs: 11
  • Time: 6 hours 44 mins
  • Distance: 37.58 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 7/10
  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Calf muscles: 4/10

Not a running related question, but do you have any tips for coping with life related stresses? At the moment I’m getting myself really worked up about my new job.

Do you ever run without your GPS at home? I’m starting to suspect that I run better without my Garmin.  

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 tears.training-journalsI’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.