Rants and raves #22

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after spending the majority of the day inside. I was aiming to complete a 60 minute run this weekend. After I nearly broke my neck walking the short distance to the local shops, I decided that attempting to run would be stupid. As always all moans and groans and rants and raves and represent my own views. Other far superior and less opinionated running blogs are available.

Rave: The support of other bloggers

Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to read and to comment on my Feeling a bit lost and alone post.  Your support and comments really did help. I’m trying to be more positive and to focus on the present and the future more. I can’t change the past, but I can learn from my mistakes. I’m finding the festive period quite challenging, but hopefully this time next year, I’ll feel confident enough to attend a couple of Christmas parties.

Rant: Flexitol blogger perks

Back in 2015, I wrote a review for Flexitol. This review has featured on their blogger sign up page for more than two years. The same page promotes quite a few perks for bloggers; one perk is sponsorship from Flexitol for your next sporting event/challenge.

I recently emailed Flexitol to ask about sponsorship for my half marathon in March. After a slight delay, I was informed that Flexitol are “not currently running a blogger campaign that would offer sponsorship of an event, or the opportunity to report from an event for Flexitol…”

I was offered more products to review or to hold competitions with my followers. After questioning the out of date information on the blogger sign up page, I was told that Flexitol would be reviewing site content in 2018.

I wasn’t paid to write a review for Flexitol and only wanted them to stick £10 on my fundraising page. The whole saga has left me feeling pretty frustrated.

Rave: Myprotein Fitness Awards

Although my blog wasn’t nominated in the Running Awards, it has been shortlisted in the ‘fitness’ category of the Myprotein Fitness Blogger Awards 2017.

Fitness-Award-2017-Shortlisted-UK

I have no idea why my running blog has been shortlisted in the fitness category, but I’m quite pleased that my running waffle is starting to receive some recognition. It’s a shame I’ll be rebranding my blog at some point in 2018.

Rant: Snow (and ice)

For once the weather forecast was correct, and it snowed all day in Four Oaks on Sunday. Yesterday, temperatures remained well below freezing all day.

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Unfortunately, the snow has now turned into ice, and the pavements around here are pretty dodgy. I’ve been obsessively checking the weather forecast, and I don’t think I’ll be able to run outside until Thursday #thirdworldproblems

This guide to walking safely on ice made me smile.Walking on ice

[Source]

Having long legs means that I’m definitely more Bambi than penguin when it comes to walking on ice. I only fell on my arse once yesterday so I’m definitely getting better.

Rave: The generosity of people I’ve never met

After a slightly steady start, my fundraising is now going so well, I actually feel guilty that I’m ‘only’ running a half marathon. The majority of people who have sponsored me are runners I’ve never actually met in ‘real life’. I’ve increased my target and will continue to irritate my friends and family on Farcebook. My mentor is going to share my fundraising page with his academic contacts, so I’m reasonably confident I’ll raise quite a bit for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.

I wish I was feeling equally as confident about my half marathon training.

Rant: Active.com

Quite a few people who have entered races via Active.com have had fraudulent activity on their credit/debit cards. When I highlighted the issue to an event organiser, they weren’t interested. So I’ve you’ve entered any races recently via the Active.com site, keep an eye on your bank account.

Have you ever had a negative experience as a blogger?

Did you have a lot of snow where you live?

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Christmas gifts for runners

Last year, my rather unsubtle Christmas gifts for runners (named Emma) post was reasonably successful. While my family quite sensibly ignored the more expensive items in my guide, on Christmas Day I found myself unwrapping parcels containing a Lululemon running skirt, Shock Absorber sports bra and some running socks.

It’s now December and Christmas is rapidly approaching. Although I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve told my family I can’t afford Christmas this year, I keep getting asked “what would you like for Christmas Emma?”. As a result, I’ve decided to produce an updated Christmas gifts for runners guide.

Once again, I’ve included photos and links to each item to hopefully save my family time when they are shopping online.

Christmas 2017

Donation to my fundraising page My close friend Geoff was recently diagnosed with a rare form of thyroid cancer. After a discussion with my him, I decided to use my place in the Cambridge Half to raise money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust, the first registered charity in the UK dedicated solely to the support of people affected by thyroid cancer. At the moment my fundraising isn’t going very well. I’m hoping that my family and friends will start to feel more generous as Christmas approaches.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17 trainers I’m aware that these were included in my gift guide last year. However, I genuinely believe that a runner can never have too many pairs of trainers. Although these trainers are expensive, they are cheaper than the physio sessions I needed last time I attempted to run in a different brand and model of trainers.

HydrateM8 water bottle I need to drink less Diet Coke and more still water. I’m hoping that a motivational HydrateM8 water bottle will help me to ditch the fizzy drinks and to embrace the clear stuff.

Entry into the Vitality London 10,000 I’ve included this rather random gift suggestion again because an entry into one of my favourite races would make an amazing Christmas present. I’m pretty certain that most runners would love to receive a race entry as a Christmas gift.

Garmin Forerunner 235 Unfortunately, my second-hand Garmin Forerunner 220 has been a little temperamental for quite some time and will probably need replacing within the next six months. A runner can always dream!

Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones I’ve done my research, i.e. I’ve read a couple of blogs and online reviews, and the Aftershokz Trekz Titanium wireless headphones sound pretty awesome. When I (hopefully) move to Wallingford next month, I’ll be doing most of my training on a ‘dreadmill’ and will, therefore, need to upgrade my rubbish freebie phone headphones. If you do decide to treat me to a pair, blue is my favourite colour.

Shock Absorber Ultimate Run sports bra If anyone in my family knows what happened to the Ultimate Run sports bra I unwrapped on Christmas Day last year please let me know! My boobs have now had enough of the worn-out sports bras I bought from H&M over four years ago.

Bespoke eatnaturally nutrition plan While I’ve really enjoyed attempting to follow and recreate several of the recipes on the Fitnaturally website, I know that I’d benefit from a bespoke nutrition plan. You keep telling me that I’m getting a little “podgy” so here’s your chance to help me sort my diet out.

Jasyoga Hit Reset book I’ve been subscribing to Jasyoga for quite some time now and would love a copy of Erin Taylor’s Hit Reset book. If you don’t manage to track down a copy of the Hit Reset book don’t worry, Erin has written a second book called Work IN which is available for pre-order now.

The Running School biomechanical running analysis And finally, if you are searching for the perfect gift for an injury-prone runner, I’ve got a great suggestion; a biomechanical running analysis. I’ve included a link to The Running School; however, loads of places seem to offer a similar running analysis.

Have you asked for any running related gifts for Christmas this year?

Moving on and my future running plans

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and to comment on my last post. Your comments really did help loads. I’m now feeling more positive about the future and about my new job.

As my mentor once said:

“Forget past. Focus on the future. Aim to do the best at whatever comes along.”

Now all I need to do is to find somewhere to live…I’m trying not to let the fact I could be living in a tent next month stress me out. Fingers crossed someone responds to my Spare Room messages and I find somewhere to live sooner rather than later!

Although I haven’t blogged very much recently, I’ve been running 3-4 times a week. My Garmin is still ‘playing up’ so I’ve not been able to record all of my runs. For a statistics and numbers geek, I think that I’ve coped reasonably well.

DSCF3062

My next target race is the Cambridge Half Marathon in March. After my last half marathon attempt didn’t go to plan, I got my old running coach who knows I have incredibly fragile feet and a temperamental right knee, to write me a training plan.

My new and improved half marathon training plan contains a few quite challenging looking speed sessions. I’m hoping that I don’t fall to pieces. It also includes strength and conditioning sessions and cross training. I can’t wait to get started later this month.

I know that I sound like a repetitive, broken record but I’m determined to complete the Cambridge Half Marathon without walking. I don’t care how slow my time is, I just want to run the 13.1 miles. I’m hoping that running somewhere completely different will help as I like having ‘stuff’ to distract me while I’m running.

I’m thinking about writing weekly training updates again. I know that a few people find training updates slightly dull, but I’ll admit that I’m quite nosey and enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of training for long distance races. I also need to get back my writing mojo back ASAP before I start my new job.

Rants and raves #21

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this blog post after spending the majority of the day surrounded by students with coughs and colds. I predict that by the time this is published I’ll have a cold. As always all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other far, far superior and less opinionated running blogs are available.

If you check out the relevant section of The Running Awards site you’ll find loads of awesome running blogs listed. Please take the time to vote and support your favourite running blogger**

Rave: Autumn

I’m incredibly fickle. Some days I hate autumn – usually when I nearly step in a cunningly concealed pile of dog mess or an acorn lands on my head – other days I love autumn.AutumnMaking the most of the autumn sunshine. It’s hard to believe it’s almost November.

After an amazing walk in the sunshine earlier today, I’ve decided that I currently love autumn. I just wish we didn’t have to mess with the clocks.

Rant: Christmas in October

While I love autumn, I’m not so keen on seeing Christmas food and decorations in the shops in late September/early October. I think that Christmas should be ‘banned’ until we’ve got Halloween and Bonfire Night out of the way.Christmas SeptemberI took this photo in my local M&S at the end of September.

I personally quite enjoy Christmas, however, I’m aware that a lot of people really struggle during the festive period. I’ve already witnessed people arguing about how much to spend on Christmas presents. I think my brother probably has the right idea. He is going to be spending Christmas abroad again.

Rave: Blogging

This is a slightly strange one so please bear with me. I guess most bloggers love blogging because of the freebies. Actually, I’m only joking and I’m sure that the majority of bloggers enjoy blogging for other reasons. While I’m aware my series of weekly half marathon training updates weren’t very interesting, writing them has had a slightly unexpected benefit; photographs and memories.

London memoriesSo many amazing memories.

Thanks to my weekly updates I took loads of photos during my most recent trips down to London. Without this blog I wouldn’t have taken so many photos. Without this blog I wouldn’t have so many reminders of spending quality time with someone who is now seriously ill. So take shit loads of photos and irritate your non-blogger friends and family and ignore the slightly strange looks in pubs and restaurants. I’m pleased that I did!

Rant: Insomnia

A rather random rant but I’ve included it here as it’s having a huge impact on my life and the moment. I’ve never been very good at dealing with uncertainty and not knowing how long my friend has got left and not knowing when I’m going to start my new job – the latest estimate is sometime in January, is beginning to stress me out.Insomnia

[Source]

I go to bed at a sensible time; wakeup at 3/4am and then lie awake for what feels like hours over-thinking everything. I’ve been functioning on limited sleep for almost a month now and it’s not ideal.

Rave: Running

I may be struggling to sleep but I’m really enjoying my running at the moment. My right heel and left foot *touch wood* have been behaving themselves since the Great Birmingham Run, and I’m enjoying not following a rigid(ish) training plan. Hopefully my love affair with running will continue during the festive period. Although I don’t believe in counting calories and working out how many miles I need to run to burn off a mince pie, it will be good to keep reasonably active during the festive period.

I’ve entered the Run up to Christmas challenge and have set myself the target of running 50km in December.

Rant: Great Run events

I’ve already had a bit of a moan about the not so secure baggage buses at the recent Great Birmingham Run so I won’t repeat myself. Unfortunately, I’ve got a few other issues with Great Run events so if you love Great Run events, I’d skip this particular rant.GBR Goody BagI think the small bag of Fruit Pastilles was the highlight of this goody bag.

Given the high cost of entering events such as the Great North Run and the Great South Run, I think that runners should be able to officially transfer their entry to another runner or get a refund. Yes there should be a deadline for this, but I’m sure that offering official transfers and refunds would vastly reduce the amount of ‘illegal’ number swapping that takes place.

Finally, I’m not a fan of having to search for my medal in the bottom of a goody bag. Please take note Great Run!

Rave: Getting my work published in an academic journal

As I’ve done rather a lot of ranting in this post I’ve decided to finish with a bonus rave. After a lot of stress and tears, one of the papers I started writing when I was a research student has now been published.Baxter paper

Just another three papers to finish.

Let’s just ignore the fact that my masterpiece was published online on Friday 13th. I’m also ignoring the fact that another paper I’ve written needs to be formatted before I can submit it.

I was going to rant about trains and delays but I think I’ve written enough waffle for one blog. I also need to crack on with some work.

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

Have you made a start on your Christmas shopping? My friend Kate has just informed me she’s done all of her Christmas shopping.

Do you have any tips for dealing with insomnia? I’m getting to the stage I’ll try almost anything. 

Race Report: Great Birmingham Run

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

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

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

Running gear

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

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

To the start

Race Village[Source]

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mary Vale Road[Source]

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

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

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

Elevation

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

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

Finish line

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

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

Medal and tshirt

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

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

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 16

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to complete the Great Birmingham Run yesterday. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty – I got to see the inside of the medical tent at the finish – but I completed the 13.1 miles.Collage 39The final week of my 16-week beginners’ half marathon training plan – the ‘taper week and race’ – contained three training runs and ended with the Great Birmingham Run. I completed a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday and an easy 15 minute run on Saturday. As my head finally started to feel ‘normal’ again, I made sure that I completed every training run.

I also did my best to avoid people with coughs and colds. Being unemployed definitely does have some advantages.

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

Although I definitely set my alarm for 05:30, I must have somehow managed to turn it off in my sleep as I didn’t wake up until 08:30. Returning to full-time work and working 39 hours a week is going to be such a shock to my system! As I didn’t want to start the final week of my training with a stressful run, I decided to spend some time through the PF stretches and exercises I’d been neglecting.

Once I was confident the school rush had ended I headed out on my run. Unfortunately, Geoffrey the Garmin was still broken so I used him as a stop watch rather than a GPS. My 20 minute run was probably a little faster than an ‘easy jog’ as I’m completely useless at pacing myself. I also tend to run slightly faster when I’m feeling good and nothing hurts. My suspicions were confirmed when I got home and worked out that I’d covered over 2 miles.

The final week of training had got off to a positive start.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday was a productive but incredibly restful rest day. After four consecutive days of pavement pounding, my legs definitely felt like they needed a day off. I spent the morning sorting through several boxes of junk and shredding loads of old paperwork and the afternoon reviewing an unpublished academic manuscript.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I turned it off and went back to sleep. For once I wasn’t being lazy; I was waiting for my second-hand replacement for Geoffrey the Garmin to arrive. After spending the morning waiting for the post to be delivered, my replacement Garmin finally arrived at lunchtime. Unfortunately, the battery was completely flat so I had to put Geoffrey II on charge before I could delete all the previous owners’ speedy data.

I didn’t head out on my run until almost 20:30. The run had the potential to be crap as it was dark, humid and incredibly windy. I was, however, so pleased to have a fully functioning Garmin, I ignored the less than ideal weather conditions (and a slight creepy taxi driver) and enjoyed my evening run.

Thursday – Rest

I got up at a respectable time, got changed into some gym gear and spent half an hour working my way through some of Jasyoga’s new Athletes for Yoga video series featuring Olympian Alysia Montano.  Although I’ve been subscribing to Jasyoga for almost two years, I realised that I’m still not very good at relaxing. Perhaps some people just aren’t very good at chilling out?

By the way, if you’d like to try Jasyoga, I was sent the promo code ‘AUTUMNRESET’ for one month’s free access.

The rest of Thursday was uneventful. I entered the Cambridge Half Marathon and spent a few more hours decluttering my PhD paperwork and text books. I spent the rest of the day writing an abstract for a paper and listing yet more junk on eBay. As I felt that I’d had a reasonably productive day, I treated myself to fish and chips and then spent an enjoyable couple of hours lying on my bed reading.

Friday – Rest

Friday was another reasonably restful but incredibly productive rest day. My paper on environmental flows was published in Progress in Physical Geography. Unfortunately, I can’t actually access the paper as I’m no longer affiliated to a university. After that bit of excitement my mentor phoned. Sometimes it’s just good to talk.

Saturday – Rest

I should have completed a 10-15 minute very easy paced jog, but I decided not to as I didn’t want to risk picking up a random, last minute injury. I spent the majority of the morning working on a couple of slightly overdue product reviews, stressing about the weather, getting my kit ready for the half marathon and answering a few blog-related emails.Collage 40After a reasonably productive morning, I headed across Birmingham to the university to return some slightly overdue library books. The trains to and from the university seemed to be full of people coughing and sneezing. I was paranoid I’d somehow manage to pick up a last minute bug. I got home, dumped my half marathon kit into a pile, made myself eat a huge plate of Spag Bol and went to bed at a reasonably sensible time.

Sunday – Great Birmingham Run

When I’ve had more time to reflect on what happened and what went wrong yesterday, I’ll write a separate race report. To summarise: running at 13:30 just felt ‘wrong’, it was warm and windy, my pacing was all over the place, I wanted to drop out after three miles, I had to run-walk from four miles, there were unexpected hills, my head started to really hurt, my vision went and I felt dizzy, I crossed the finish line and got escorted to the medical tent. Not my finest moment as a runner.

I’m pretty sure that I wrote something very similar 12 months ago, but I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my weekly half marathon training updates. Your support really did help me probably more than you realised, especially when I started to doubt myself last month.

Training totals:

  • Runs: 46
  • Time: 23 hours 50 mins
  • Distance: 129.95 miles

Races/time trials:

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52
  • Half Marathon: 02:43:32 (an epic fail but I’ll be back!)

Final niggleometer:

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 15

Once again, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. After witnessing a lot of London Marathon ballot angst last week, I’m looking forward to the online running community hopefully returning to normal. I know it’s easy for me to say this, but the London Marathon really isn’t the be-all and end-all.Collage 37The penultimate week of my half marathon training plan and the ‘beginning of taper’ should have started with a double rest day. It didn’t. The plan then recommended that I completed a steady 50 minute run on Wednesday, an easy 35 minute run on Thursday, an easy 15 minute jog on Saturday and a 60 minute run on Sunday.

The reality was unfortunately a little different and I ended up resting on four consecutive days and running on three consecutive days.

Monday – Rest

When I got out of bed on Monday, I discovered that I was experiencing the dreaded delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) for the first time in ages. Slightly worrying given that I’d failed to complete my longer run the previous morning. After spending what felt like ages packaging up yet more eBay sales – why does it always take one buyer ages to pay? – I decided I needed to get out of the house.

I spent ages walking around the top end of Sutton Park, weighing up the various pros and cons of accepting the job I’d been offered. Although I knew the pros outweighed the cons, I was still letting my anxiety rule me. I’ve genuinely got no idea how some people are brave enough to travel to places like Dubai to start a new job.

Tuesday – Rest

After spending ages discussing my main concerns and fears with my mentor, I decided to accept the job offer. I then had to overcome yet another everyday task which for some reason makes me incredibly anxious – phoning someone I don’t know. I took a deep breath, worked out exactly what I wanted to say and made the phone call. If everything goes to plan, I will start my new job on November 20th. I then spent the rest of the day worrying about finding somewhere to live, moving away from my friends and family, fitting into my smarter clothes (actually this is a genuine concern…) and remembering how to be a hydrologist. Just occasionally, I really hate being single and having to deal with all this sort of stuff on my own.

Wednesday – Rest

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 I discovered that my headache had made an unwelcome return. Like last week, when I stood up I felt nauseous and light-headed. I decided that if I felt better, I would attempt to complete my 50 minute run later on in the day. I switched my alarm off and slept for another three hours.Collage 38Fortunately, when I woke up again at 08:30, although I didn’t feel great, I felt well enough to reply to some slightly overdue emails and to complete and send off my reference request form. By the afternoon I started to go a little stir crazy so I headed out for another walk in Sutton Park. The walk left me feeling so knackered, I decided to be sensible and postponed my 50 minute run.

Thursday – Rest

I should have completed an easy-paced 35 minute run but thanks to my head I didn’t. As I’m aware that my blog is getting far too repetitive, I won’t bore you with the gory details! At least I got an early night and actually managed to sleep.

Friday – 50 mins steady

When my alarm woke me at 05:00, although I still didn’t feel great, I felt well enough to attempt the 50 minute run I should have completed earlier in the week. I promised myself that I’d run at a sensible pace and that I’d immediately stop running if I started to feel unwell. I got dressed, worked through some stretches, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of water and then headed outside. Unfortunately, my trusty Garmin decided that it didn’t want to function as a GPS. After spending several minutes waiting for it to pick up a signal, I decided to run using it as a stopwatch.Medal and tshirtAlthough the run wasn’t fast or enjoyable, I managed to run for 50 minutes without stopping. According to GB Mapometer I covered about 4.25 miles; for some reason my legs felt like they had covered double that distance. Later on that afternoon I spotted a photo of this year’s Great Birmingham Run medal and t-shirt. It’s good to see that the medal features the Library of Birmingham.

Saturday – 15 mins easy jog

Although I completed a 15 minute jog, I’m not sure exactly how far I managed to run as my Garmin died five minutes into the run. I think I managed to cover roughly 1.3 miles. The rest of my Saturday was incredibly mundane. I spent a couple of hours catching up on housework and washing, please could someone invent a self-cleaning house and clothes? Once I’d completed my chores, I spent an entertaining hour attempting to work through a selection of Jasyoga 5-minute reset videos. I’m so useless at yoga, I felt less relaxed when I’d finished than when I’d started. I spent the evening watching the Berlin Marathon – yes I’m a few weeks behind – with an ice pack balanced on my knee. Not the most exciting Saturday night.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace

When my alarm kindly woke me at 06:00, I was relieved that I finally felt normal again. I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, went to the loo, drank a couple of glasses of water, left my Garmin searching for satellites on the door step and then spent 30 minutes working through a selection of PF stretches. I headed out the door and discovered that my Garmin was still trying to remember how to function as a GPS. After three failed attempts at GPSing, I think it’s time for me to accept that Geoffrey the Garmin may well have reached the end of his life.

I decided to use my Garmin as a stopwatch again and headed out into the dark. As the training plan recommended I ran at a comfortable pace, I made a concerted effort to maintain a sensible pace. I was reminded just how rubbish I am at pacing myself and how reliant I have become on my Garmin. Running without a GPS was quite tricky and I’m sure my pacing was erratic. I spent an enjoyable 60 minutes pounding the pavements of Four Oaks and felt pretty good when I reached the end of the run. I’m such a geek, as soon as I got home I worked out I’d covered approximately 5.35 miles.

So that’s the fifteenth week of my half marathon training not exactly completed. The excuses and reasons for not running started to get a little repetitive. While I don’t think it was a successful week, I’m over the moon I managed to run for 50 minutes on Friday morning and for an hour yesterday. I just hope that the training runs I missed don’t come back to haunt me during the half marathon.

Next week’s training schedule – the ‘taper and race week’ – contains three training runs and then the Great Birmingham Run on Sunday. I don’t feel ready! I’ve got to complete a 20 minute recovery run later on today. I’ve then got to complete a comfortable (whatever that means) 40 minute run on Wednesday and an easy 10-15 minute run on Saturday. The training plan recommends that I test out my race outfit on Saturday. As I don’t fancy starting my half marathon wearing smelly running gear, I’ll be ignoring this particular recommendation.

I’ve got everything crossed that I avoid picking up a delayed dose of Freshers’ Flu and that my head continues to behave itself.

Training totals

  • Runs: 44
  • Time 22 hours 50 mins
  • Distance: 124.24 miles

 Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

 Niggleometer

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