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

[Source]

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**

Advertisements

The Ciderthon 2019 & Discount Code

If I didn’t have a knee injury, I’d definitely be taking part in the second running – apologies for the terrible pun – of the Ciderthon on Sunday May 5th 2019.n5o5ylhffkn2bbtfd36eAs a cider lover, hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky and I’ll be able to take part in 2020.

What’s the Ciderthon all about?

Who said you can’t drink cider and exercise? The event organisers bet that most of us have never run a race quite like the Ciderthon! I haven’t, yet. Experience an amazing day with friends filled with fitness, fun and cider. The organisers more or less guarantee entrants will work up a thirst every mile to fuel themselves with a different cider at each ‘dehydration stop’.

Water will be available too!

39442826_2047437092234513_4457261027645456384_n

The 13 and a bit miles cross some beautiful Somerset scenery before returning to the wonderful bars, food and music at the finish line. For more information about the route please check out this page.

Key Event Information

  • Start time: 11:00am (registration is open from 08:45am)
  • Bring your ticket and suitable ID
  • Fancy dress is encouraged
  • Entrants must have suitable footwear to participate

Check out the cider producers fuelling the half marathon

  • Sheppys Cider
  • Bumble Bee Cider
  • Crafty Nectar
  • Loxley
  • Tricky Cider
  • Crest Cyder
  • The Taunton Cider Co
  • Brothers Cider
  • The Orchard Pig
  • Beard and Sabre
  • The Cider Box

How to Enter

Tickets for the Ciderthon are currently available here and if you use the code EMMA10 you will receive a 10% discount!!

With your ticket you will receive

  • Finishers medal
  • T-shirt
  • 13 x cider tasters
  • Finishers pint
  • Ciderthon Village bars and fun open to all

52422320_2172288156416072_6197388120204247040_nFor more detailed information please check out the dedicated race website.

Become a CIDERTHONER SUNDAY 5TH OF MAY 2019!

#RunMilesDrinkCider

London Landmarks Half Marathon training week 12

Good morning and happy Thursday. I hope that everyone who reads my weekly updates had a great weekend. Mine didn’t exactly go to plan. At least we’ve got most of the week out of the way, it will soon be the weekend again.
Collage 29The final week of my half marathon – taper week and race – recommended I completed an easy 20 minute run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady half hour run on Friday, and finally, a half marathon on Sunday. Spoiler, after spending several days in bed feeling terrible, it took me until Tuesday to accept I wouldn’t be well enough to complete a half marathon. A difficult decision to make but most definitely the right decision.

Monday – 20 mins easy Rest

The final week of my half marathon didn’t get off to the most positive of starts when I felt far too unwell to make the most of a day of annual leave. Like the vast majority of people – I can think of a couple of exceptions – I hate feeling so unwell I can’t function properly. Walking the mile to the local shops left me feeling exhausted and food didn’t taste right. Mum treated me to a small cooked breakfast at the local farm shop, I struggled to clear my plate. To add insult to injury, during one epic coughing fit I smashed my fragile left foot into the wooden storage box at the bottom of my bed. A week later it still feels painful. Only I could injure my foot coughing.

Tuesday – Rest

I had originally aimed to travel down to Wallingford so that I’d reach the office at lunchtime. I phoned my line manager who recommended I didn’t attempt to come into the office. I got off the phone and had a terrible coughing fit. I think it was at this point I accepted I wouldn’t be well enough to attempt a half marathon on Sunday. The thought of attending a two-day drought conference in Oxford was stressful enough.

After another what felt like another complete waste of a day, I walked the short distance to the local train station and started the long journey back down to Wallingford. I didn’t feel great but I was determined to attend the conference the following morning. A colleague very kindly picked me up from Oxford train station – apparently I looked shattered – and we drove back to Wallingford via McDonald’s. I clearly was far from well as I didn’t even manage to finish my chips.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable Rest

The short walk into the centre of Wallingford left me feeling shattered. I usually love a good hydrology related conference, however, the thought of spending the day listening to presentations while trying not to irritate people with my cough meant that I couldn’t relax. The venue of the conference was stunning – Pembroke College, Oxford – definitely a case of how the other half live go to university. Completely different to both Birmingham and Leeds University. And to think I turned down a place at Cambridge. It’s just a shame it was so cloudy and gloomy both days we were there.

The first day finished just before 17:00 then there was a drinks reception. By this stage I felt far too tired to network, so I positioned myself in a corner away from the crowds of conference delegates. I spotted one of my PhD external examiners, said a quick hello, made my excuses and headed back to Wallingford with a colleague. Most people would have headed straight to bed. I’m not sensible so I convinced my colleague to grab a bite to eat in the Old Post Office. I’m not sure drinking Malibu and Coke was sensible, but I slept well that night.

Thursday – Rest

I woke up well before my alarm feeling much better; my throat had progressed from what I call the irritating ‘tickly’ stage. I had a shower, got dressed into some reasonably smart (for me!) clothes and walked the short distance into the centre of Wallingford. I grabbed myself some breakfast in Greggs and met up with my colleague at the bus stop. We arrived at Oxford about an hour before the conference started so decided to pop into M&S. I checked out the length of some so-called ‘longer length’ trousers, and not for the first time wondered who actually buys clothes in M&S.
Collage 30Although I’d slept well, I found the second day of the conference tiring. Following the most amazing lunch – the Pembroke College dining hall made me think of Harry Potter – I found myself almost falling asleep a couple of times during the afternoon session. The presentations were informative, I just seemed to run out of energy. There wasn’t a lot of conversation during the bus journey back to Wallingford.

Friday – 30 mins steady Rest

After spending the week either at home or at the conference in Oxford, it felt slightly strange being back in the office. By the time I’d read almost 250 emails and had written up my end of year review, it was time for ‘fish and chips’ Friday. I was clearly not completely recovered as I struggled to finish my tiny portion of chips. Most people know my Friday afternoon routine, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. I briefly considered attempting a steady 30 minute run but decided I needed give myself more time to recover from the office lurgy. Definitely the right decision as I felt so tired I headed to bed straight after eating my traditional Friday evening Chinese. Not the most of productive of starts to the weekend.

Saturday – Rest

With the exception of buying two tickets for the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley, Saturday was more or less a complete write-off. Completing a few simple adulting tasks in the morning left me feeling so tired, I clearly needed more sleep as I spent five hours in bed asleep. Another waste of a day. Not heading down to London was definitely the right decision. Although I felt much better when I woke up, I had no appetite and zero energy. More worryingly my head felt so fuzzy, I wasn’t able to make any progress on the academic paper I need to complete by the end of March. As for the job application I had planned on completing, not a chance!

Sunday – London Landmarks Half Marathon Rest

And so to Sunday, the day of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Some runners seem to have the ability to complete half marathons and even marathons when they aren’t feeling 100 per cent. I’m definitely not one of those runners; I must be getting sensible now that I’m approaching 40. A slightly scary prospect! The nearest I got to running was putting my warmer winter running gear into storage, washing and retiring a pair of trainers, and putting my customised insoles into a pair of trainers I’d forgotten I’d bought in the sales. Please don’t let me buy any more trainers!

After what felt like the shortest and least productive weekend ever, I started the lengthy journey back down to Wallingford. The long journey gave me time to reflect on my unsuccessful half marathon training cycle and future running and race goals. At one stage last week I seriously thought about quitting running, I’d had enough of niggles and illnesses preventing me from making it to the start of my target races. It’s getting a little predictable and embarrassing. Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’m feeling slightly more positive and can’t wait to pull on my new trainers.

So a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who has read my half marathon training updates. I’m sorry didn’t make it the start and that there won’t be a detailed review of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. I’d love to take part next year but doubt that I’d be lucky in the ballot two years in a row.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 19 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 105.12 miles

Niggleometer

  • Left knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 9/10

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 11

Good afternoon, I hope that everyone who reads this – ‘thank-you!’ – had an amazing weekend and start to the new week. This blog is over 24 hours later than usual because I’ve been stuck down by the office lurgy; again. As it stands, I think it’s extremely unlikely I’ll be well enough to head to London, at the moment; I can’t even run a bath.Collage 27The eleventh week of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training – the ‘start of the taper’ – suggested that I completed a 20 minute jog on Monday, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday, and an hour long run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After cutting short a couple of longer runs, I decided to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the penultimate week of half marathon training? Did Storm Gareth – does anyone else think the name ‘Gareth’ sounds far too friendly to be a storm? – derail my training? Most importantly, did I manage to avoid picking up my usual last minute injury or illness?

Monday – 20 min jog Rest

Thanks to a couple of glasses of red wine on Sunday evening and a late night, I started the week feeling tired with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately, the combination of a somewhat windy 30 minute walk into the office and a Gregg’s sausage roll cleared my head. A good job, because the first challenge of the day was getting my computer fixed. Apparently a colleague had saved 4GB worth of ‘stuff’ on my computer, the computer technician said he was amazed it was functioning at all. I wonder if I’ve got too much ‘junk’ stored away inside my head, maybe a good clear out would help me too. Anyway, fingers crossed that’s the end of my work computer woes.

I escaped the office at a sensible time, walked back to my lodgings and lay down on my bed. Not the most productive use of my time but I felt completely shattered. I’m sure people who read my weekly updates on a regular basis can predict what happened next, I nodded off and woke up a couple of hours later feeling a tad disorientated. I decided to delay my 20 minute run by 24 hours.

Tuesday – Rest 20 min jog

Tuesday got off to a positive start when I managed to avoid getting soaked on the way into the office. I also remembered to distribute the report I’d produced last week, I have been known to forget.IMG_2778The rest of the day was reasonably productive as the office was virtually empty. I discovered that I’d got an interview for the job I’d applied for a couple of weeks ago. After completely messing up my last interview, I’ll make sure that I’m more prepared.

I almost stopped off at the Boat House pub with a colleague after work, but knew that one pint would turn into ‘several’ pints and I wouldn’t run. Such will power! I got back to my room, got changed into some running gear and spent an hour catching up on emails and blogmin. I was a little frustrated when I discovered Holby City had been postponed due to the idiots who are failing to lead our country.

When I eventually set out on what should have been a jog, I discovered it was mild and quite windy. I found the short ‘jog’ quite challenging, it most definitely wasn’t a confidence boosting training session. My post-run beetroot-face took a long time to fade.

Wednesday – 40 mins steady Rest

I think the highlight of the working day were avoiding getting drenched during the walk into work – others weren’t as lucky – and the amazing cakes a colleague brought in for our team meeting. I spent lunchtime reminiscing about clubbing and trance music in the late 1990s with a colleague. We both agreed the lack of digital cameras and social media when we were at university was definitely a massive positive.

I’m not sure what went wrong but I didn’t leave the office until 17:30. This meant that I had to postpone my training run by a day as my landlady had arranged for her neighbour – a lady who works in my office – to come round for some wine and nibbles. The evening was incredibly civilised, I think the equation three bottles of red wine between three people over three hours worked well. I even remembered to pack my bags before heading to bed.

Thursday – Rest 40 mins steady

I woke up feeling incredibly perky, perhaps I should drink red wine instead of beer next time I find myself in a pub. My day got off to a positive start when i avoid the rain by a matter of minutes for the second day in a row. The theme of the day seemed to be ‘ask Dr Emma’ this was great as it meant the day flew by really quickly.

I did my usual trick of getting an earlier bus back to Oxford than I needed to. This left me with enough time to have a quick look around the castle and prison located in the centre of Oxford. I must admit I found both slightly underwhelming.   Collage 28I got back to Four Oaks at 20:00ish, dumped my bags, pulled on some running gear and headed straight back out the door. I found the 40 minute steady run difficult as I felt like I had no energy. I hadn’t eaten for eight hours so I guess I was running on empty. I got home, had quick shower and went into ‘adulting’ mode. It’s just a shame I didn’t feel hungry and completely forgot to eat.

Friday – 40-45 mins steady Rest

I didn’t feel great when I woke up, but put it down to the fact I hadn’t eaten enough after running the previous evening. I made myself eat a decent breakfast and then made a start on the manuscript I need to finish reviewing by the end of the month. After a couple of hours I needed a break, so when my friend said he was popped into Sutton Coldfield, I asked if I could join him. I wanted to buy two things; an electric toothbrush and some running socks. I went into Boots; they didn’t have the toothbrush I wanted. I also failed to find any running socks and was reminded for the millionth time that online shopping is the way forward. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears with the details. It’s just a shame my head felt so fuzzy – not alcohol induced – I was unable to make much progress with the manuscript. I was also unable to run.

Saturday – Rest

I spent all day in bed feeling terrible. One minute I was boiling hot, the next I was freezing cold. After one epic coughing fit, my heart was beating so quickly it started to scare me. I unfortunately felt too unwell to travel to Wolverhampton to the Wolves v Man United match. I didn’t even feel well enough to watch it on the TV; hopefully I’ll be able to get tickets for Wembley.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace Rest

Just looking at my trainers made me feel tired, there was no way I could have completed a training run. Rather worryingly, I somehow managed to injure my foot while lying in bed coughing. It feels like I’ve managed to bruise a bone. Only I could injure myself lying down! Sunday was another waste of a day, just thinking about running a half marathon stressed me out.1 week to goSo that’s the penultimate week of my half marathon training not successfully completed. Once again, I’ve been struck down by the office lurgy in the lead up to a race, I wish people would stay at home when they are ill. I also wish I had a better immune system. Unless I recover quickly during the week (it’s now Tuesday, and I still feel terrible) I don’t think I’ll be heading down to London. I’m in danger of earning myself the nickname the ‘DNS’ runner.

The final week of my half marathon training is described as the taper and race week. After missing far too many training runs, I don’t need to taper, I just need to get better ASAP! At the moment, I think there’s zero chance of me making it to the start line of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Even attempting to walk around the course would end in tears.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 19 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 105.12 miles

 Niggleometer

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

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 10

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

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

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

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

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

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

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

Wednesday – Rest

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

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

Thursday – 60 mins easy

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

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

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

Friday – Rest

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

Saturday – parkrun Rest

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

Sunday – 120-130 mins easy 80 mins easy

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

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

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

Training totals

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

 Niggleometer

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

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.