Hunkemoller sports backpack review

Last month, I was given the opportunity to review a sports backpack manufactured by a brand I hadn’t come across before; Hunkemoller. The sports backpack is part of Hunkemoller’s limited edition Caro E collection and as I needed a new bag for the gym, I checked out the collection, loved what I saw and accepted the opportunity.

A couple of weeks later a gorgeous pink sports backpack arrived in the post.

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Now that the backpack has accompanied me on a couple of trips to the gym, my local tennis club and a half marathon, I feel that I’m in a position to produce a hopefully useful review.

An introduction to the Hunkemoller Caro E collection

Caro Einhoff is a German blogger with a huge passion for fashion and beauty. In collaboration with Hunkemoller, Caro recently designed her own sports collection featuring a pink colour scheme. Combined with black, this sports collection aims to have a feminine but powerful look and feel. The collection includes a variety of sports bras, leggings, tops and other accessories.

The review process

When I first unpacked the backpack, I must admit that the first thing I noticed was the quirky and slightly unusual design of the backpack. It is definitely far more eye-catching than my current sports bag.

After spending a few minutes trying to work out how the clip lock fastening worked, I was ready to fill the backpack with my gym gear. As I like to take a lot of ‘stuff’ with me when I go to the gym, I decided to see how much I could fit into the backpack. Thanks to the clever design of the backpack, I managed to squeeze in everything I needed and more. The zip and clip lock fastening which allows for expansion when required, means that the backpack is far, far roomier than it first appears.

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On Sunday, I decided to let my Hunkemoller sport backpack experience the organised chaos of a baggage bus at a major running event. Although my existing sports bag has more interior storage compartments and pockets, the Hunkemoller backpack is so distinctive; I was able to spot it as soon as I stepped on the baggage bus. As a runner who was feeling a little delirious after completing a half marathon, this was definitely a positive.

The Verdict

All in all, I was really impressed with the Hunkemoller sport backpack. The backpack has quilted fabric and looks quirky and stylish, almost too stylish for a 38 year old runner. The inside of the backpack is fully lined and contains a small zipped interior pocket which is just about large enough to keep some change, keys etc secure.

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The only aspect of the backpack I’m not so keen on – this is more down to my own personal taste – is the colour; pale pink, a colour I don’t think is very practical. Unfortunately, after a couple of train journeys, a trip to the gym and a few hours inside a baggage bus, the backpack already looks a little grubby in places.

I’m quite clumsy, and can guarantee that the backpack will end up ‘wearing’ my sports drink at some stage. Luckily the backpack can be washed on a standard 40 degree washing machine cycle. This is a massive positive as it means I can continue to use the sports backpack without worrying about it getting dirty. I just hope that it survives the washing machine!

So thanks again to Hunkemoller for the opportunity to review the sports backpack. The backpack is part of the limited edition Caro E collection, is available from Hunkemoller and has a RRP of £32.00.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a Hunkemoller sports backpack for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As always all opinions and photographs are my own**

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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

 

Great Birmingham Run training week 14

I hope that everyone had a good weekend and that Monday wasn’t too challenging. I also hope that you were successful in the ballot for the 2018 London Marathon. If you weren’t, there are plenty of alternative marathons. The highlight of my weekend was managing to avoid having an ‘incident’ during my long run on Sunday.Collage 35Week 14 was described as the ‘peak week’ and I should have completed for training runs. Unfortunately, my headaches and nausea persisted throughout the week, and I only managed to run (sort of) very slowly for 1 hr 45 minutes on Sunday. I was originally aiming to run for two hours, however, some issues with my stomach meant that I had to stop running and walk back home ASAP. I’m still constantly reminding myself that I’ve done a lot of training and that the longer runs are the most important, but I’m starting to feel more than a little concerned. At least my knee and heel feel great and I’ve lost weight.

Monday – Rest

My legs felt more than a little niggly after my 100 minute run the previous day, so I was relieved when I discovered that week 14 started with a rest day. Little did I realise that the majority of the week would be incredibly restful. So much for a peak week. After dropping another load of eBay parcels at the local Post Office, I spent a couple of hours working on a job application before I had to stop because I could feel another headache developing. The rest of Monday was more or less a complete write-off; I ended up going to bed at 19:00, such a waste of a day.

Tuesday – Rest

I should have completed a steady 50 minute run but I was unable to run. When my alarm woke me at 05:00, I quickly discovered that rather than getting better, my headache had got a lot worse. When I stood up I felt really light-headed and nauseous. There was no way I could run. I spent most of the morning lying in the dark trying and failing not to feel sorry for myself. By the afternoon I started to feel a little better and made myself go outside for a short walk around the top end of Sutton Park. I figured that some fresh air would make me feel better. While my head felt almost ‘normal’- no jokes please – I still felt quite light-headed and nauseous and had to ask my friend to come and rescue me. Not my finest moment! Rather predictably the rest of Tuesday wasn’t quite as productive as it should have been.

Wednesday – Rest

I actually felt much better when I woke up, perhaps my head knew that it was a rest day… I spent the morning completing yet another lengthy job application, catching up on my emails and blogmin and generally making the most of feeling better. My number and runners’ guide for the half marathon arrived and I discovered that I’d allocated a place in the ‘orange’ or fast start wave. I’ll definitely be relegating myself into one of the slightly slower, more realistic start waves. At lunchtime I met up with Kate for a chinwag, a pub lunch and a pint. I regretted this decision later on.Collage 36I’m not going to go into too much detail here but on Wednesday evening I got to travel in the back of an ambulance for the third time in my life. Although all of the NHS staff were amazing, it’s not an experience I want to repeat again any time soon.

Thursday – Rest

Once again, I should have completed a 50 minute run. However, after spending most of the night and early morning in hospital, running was completely out of the question. Although I was disappointed to miss yet another training run, I was more disappointed to have to miss the Decathlon Bloggers Community event in London. I did my best to follow the event on social media and look forward to hopefully attending the next one.

Friday – Rest

Friday was a day of completely mixed emotions. I received a rather unexpected phone call about last week’s job interview in the morning. Unfortunately, although I hadn’t quite been good enough to land a permanent position, they wanted to offer me a 12 month contract as a hydrologist in the same team. As my brain was in overdrive and I didn’t want to make any impulsive decisions, I asked if I could have the weekend to think about the job offer.

I then proceeded to spend most of the morning weighing up the positives and negatives. The positives definitely outweighed the negatives; I just wish I had more confidence. I also wish that I had someone sensible to discuss the job offer with. So much for being a mature independent woman.

Saturday – Rest

I think the highlight of my Saturday was seeing most of my family at my nephew Oliver’s train themed birthday party. The party was held at the Burton-on-Trent Model Engineering Society miniature railway, and although it unfortunately rained virtually the entire time, the children (and quite a few of the adults) seemed to enjoy the unlimited miniature train rides. My sister-in-law made the birthday cake and while I didn’t get to try a piece, it looked amazing.

Sunday – Minimum 100 mins aim for 120 mins

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 it became clear that my stomach wasn’t very happy at all. Without sharing too much information, I had a couple of very productive and quite lengthy loo visits. After the second visit I felt a little better and decided to risk heading out on a longer run. I told myself I could always return home if my stomach started to feel iffy. I got dressed, drank a couple of glasses of water, went to the loo a third time, did some stretches, turned on my Garmin and headed outside into the dark.

It took me less than ten minutes to accept my run was going to be a hard slog. I’d get very little energy and felt like I was quite literally running on empty. Although it was drizzling and quite windy in places, it was also pretty humid and I started to overheat. I decided to be sensible and made sure that I didn’t venture too far from my house. Rather worryingly, I don’t remember much of the run.

According to my Strava statistics I managed to run continuously for 75 minutes. Not ideal when I was aiming to run for a minimum of 100 minutes. Looking back, the final 30 minutes or so of the run are a complete blur. I remember my stomach really starting to play up and having to walk a lot to avoid an unfortunate mishap. I also remember nearly tripping over a wheelie bin. At least I just about managed to make it home without shitting myself in public.

So that’s the fourteenth and what should have been the most challenging week of my Great Birmingham Run training not completed. I can’t believe that *fingers crossed* this time in a fortnight I’ll have successfully completed the half marathon.

The training schedule for week 15 contains four runs, looks far more achievable and is described as the ‘start of taper’. It is possible for a runner to be too well tapered? I’m hoping that Monday, Tuesday and Friday are the only rest days I end up taking. I’ve also got everything crossed I manage to complete a steady 50 minute run on Wednesday, a 35 minute easy run on Thursday and a 60 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 41
  • Time 20 hours 45 mins
  • Distance: 113.34 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

 

Great Birmingham Run training week 13

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I can’t wait to read everyone’s race recaps so please get writing. The highlight of my weekend was somehow managing to run for 100 minutes yesterday.Collage 32I should have completed four training runs during week 13 of my half marathon training. Unfortunately, a persistent migraine meant I only managed a 20 minute run on Monday and a longer run yesterday. I keep telling myself that the longer runs are the most important runs and that the extra rest has helped my knee. I’m still feeling a little stressed and completely undertrained.

So what went wrong last week?

Monday – 20 mins very easy

After a stressful morning spent packaging eBay sales, preparing and double-checking all the paperwork I needed for my interview, ironing, checking train times and generally getting myself completely worked up, I travelled down to London to meet up with my mentor. Collage 33After my meeting I walked across Marylebone to meet my friend. We had a couple of pints in his local and vowed to sample the Monday Madness menu next time I’m in London. Feeling suitably refreshed and also incredibly hungry, we walked the short distance to a local family owned Italian restaurant. Unfortunately, the food wasn’t up to its usual high standard. Hopefully it will be better next time we go there.

Tuesday – Rest

I’ve no idea why but I found the majority of Tuesday incredibly stressful. I had an interview near Wallingford in the afternoon and discovered that I’d allocated myself far too much travel time. Getting to an interview 45 minutes early wasn’t ideal but I guess it’s better than being late. The interview itself went reasonably well, however, I don’t think I’ll get the job as there were a couple of slightly awkward silences and I went into waffle mode. I have a feeling I completely messed up a couple of questions in the technical assessment which is slightly embarrassing. At least I managed to avoid the Aston Villa supporters on the train home.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a ‘brisk’ 60 minute run but I didn’t. When my alarm woke me at 5:30am – I’d given myself an extra 30 minutes in bed – I had a bad headache. It took me five minutes to work out that I’d got a migraine and that running for an hour wouldn’t shift it. The rest of the day was a complete write-off. Each time I tried to sit up I felt dizzy and I couldn’t see properly. Although I felt a bit better by the afternoon, working on my computer was virtually impossible as I couldn’t focus on the screen. I gave up at 9pm and went to bed.

Thursday – Rest

Yet another rest day… My vision was still more than a little dodgy so I stayed away from my computer as much as I could. I also dug out my glasses and actually wore them. Following a reasonably productive morning of interview related admin, my friend picked me up and drove us the short distance to one of my favourite shops; Sutton Runner in Boldmere. Spending time inside a specialist running shop when you are on a buying ban is challenging but I managed. Just. Some of the new Nike running shorts were rather sexy looking and quite hard to resist. My friend tried on several styles and sizes of trainers and ordered a pair to be delivered to the store. It looks like I’ll be repeating the ‘ordeal’ next week.

Friday – Rest

Unfortunately, I still felt quite dizzy when I got up and my eyesight was far from perfect. As I live and run on my own, I was sensible and decided to skip my early morning 45 minute run. I promised myself that I’d run later in the day if I felt better. I didn’t feel better and ended up heading to bed at 9pm. At least my dodgy knee and feet felt completely niggle-free. Every cloud and all that…

Saturday – Rest

When I woke up I discovered that my headache had finally gone. A great start to the weekend. Quite frankly, my Saturday was so dull I don’t think it’s worth sharing the details here. At least I got a lot of sleep before my long run the following morning.

Sunday – Easy 100 min jog

Once again, I found myself debating the pros and cons of running first thing on a Sunday morning. I decided that after missing two training runs the pros definitely outweighed the cons. I’d also hate myself if I didn’t run. I got dressed, went to the loo, drank a couple of glasses of water, did some stretches, went to the loo again and headed outside into the dark. My Garmin took so long to decide to function as a GPS I thought it had finally broken.

As I had no idea if or how my head would react to me pounding the pavements of Four Oaks, I set out at a very steady pace. At times I felt I was power walking rather than running, however, when I tried to increase my pace, my legs said no. After thirty minutes I got what felt like mild pins and needles in my right foot, my new socks must have been slightly too tight or something. Although my attempt at running was pretty pathetic, I ran continuously for 100 minutes and didn’t let any of my nemesis hills beat me. The training sessions I’d missed earlier in the week hadn’t impacted my fitness levels too much, and I felt pretty good at the end of the run.Collage 34So that’s the thirteenth week of my Great Birmingham Run training not exactly completed. Although my dodgy head prevented me from heading out on two training runs, I managed to complete the most important longer run. There are now only three weeks to go so hopefully I’ll avoid migraines, knee niggles and Freshers’ Flu.

Next week’s schedule contains four training runs, is described as the ‘peak week’ and looks very challenging. I’ve got to run for 50 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday and for 10 minutes on Saturday. If I’m still in one piece and haven’t developed another migraine, I’m aiming to run for 120 minutes on Sunday. I managed to run for two hours last year, hopefully I can do it again this year.

Training totals

  • Runs: 40
  • Time 19 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 104.64 miles

 Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

 Niggleometer

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

Great Birmingham Run training week 12

Once again, I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was somehow managing to run for 85 minutes yesterday.Collage 29I should have completed four runs during week 12 of my half marathon training; a 20 minute recovery run on Monday, a 55 minute steady paced run on Wednesday, another 20 minute jog on Saturday and an 85 minute long run on Sunday. Unfortunately, a very niggly right knee meant that I only completed two out of four training runs. At least I managed to run for 85 minutes yesterday.

So what went wrong?

Monday – Rest

I was meant to start the week with a 20 minute recovery run. My right knee felt quite niggly after the Lichfield 10k so I decided to rest. Walking the short distance to post my latest batch of eBay sales was so painful, it was clear I’d definitely made the right decision. At least the walk helped to ease some of the stiffness in my legs.

Tuesday – Rest

The highlight of my rest day on Tuesday was completing a 35-page long job application form. I don’t think I’ve ever answered so many random questions. As a (sort of) reward for resting and not running – a few years ago I would have definitely attempted to run with an injury – I opened my Running Heroes prize…Collage 30As the internet doesn’t need to see a photo of my rather flabby stomach, I won’t be sharing a photo of me modelling the Ted Baker sports bra and cropped leggings I won. Seriously though. £79 for a pair of cropped leggings!? At least I’ve now got a couple of Christmas presents sorted.

Wednesday – Rest

I should have completed a 55 minute steady run but I didn’t. When my alarm woke me at 05:00 I noticed two things; my right knee still wasn’t feeling great and it was so windy outside there were wheelie bin related hazards everywhere. As I didn’t want to damage my right knee further or get taken out by an out of control wheelie bin, I turned my alarm off and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. The rest of Wednesday was productive but incredibly dull. I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Thursday – Rest

Another rest day! I thought about completing a 55 minute run but decided not to as my right knee was unfortunately still feeling sore. After spending the morning working out how I’m going to get to my interview next week – I can’t wait to start driving again – I walked the short distance to the local hair salon. This probably won’t come as a huge surprise, but I’m not a huge fan of having my hair cut. I’m a wet my hair, shampoo, rinse and go type of person. I rarely use conditioner and don’t own a hairdryer. I left the salon with a cold head and hair that is slightly too short to tie back. My hair grows so quickly, I’m not concerned about it flapping around and irritating me during next month’s half marathon, yet.

Friday – Rest

Unfortunately, even after four rest days my right knee still felt quite sore. For the first time, I started to doubt that I’d make it to the start line of the Great Birmingham Run next month. I spent the majority of the morning sitting at my computer with an ice pack balanced on my right knee. In the afternoon I dug out my foam roller and spent ages working through some of the foam rolling exercises and knee strengthening exercises on Kinetic Revolution. Although my right knee felt a million times better, I was reminded that I am about as flexible as a stiff board.

On Friday night I did something I haven’t been brave enough to do for ages. I squeezed myself into a smart dress, put on some makeup and met up with some friends at the train station. We then headed into Birmingham for a bite to eat in Adam’s – if you are ever unfortunate enough to find yourself in Birmingham then this is the best restaurant, followed by a few drinks in Grand Central. It was a positive end to a difficult week.

Saturday – 20 mins very easy jog

Although I know I completed my 20 minute very easy jog, I’m not 100 per cent sure how far I ran as my Garmin ‘died’ during the run. I completed my usual two mile loop, so suspect that I ran for more than 20 minutes. At least my right knee was reasonably niggle free. When I got home I quickly realised that I hadn’t charged my Garmin since the Lichfield 10k last Sunday so left it charging ready for my longer run. The rest of my Saturday was pretty mundane. I spent four hours preparing for my interview on Tuesday and then decided it was time for a couple of Jasyoga 5-minute reset videos. I tried to watch some of the T20 cricket, but had to abandon the TV when the vision in my left eye started to go strange. As I only usually have issues with my vision when I’m tired, I decided to head straight to bed. At least I got loads of sleep before my longer run.

Sunday – 85 mins easy pace

When my alarm woke me at 05:30 I spent about 10 minutes debating the pros and cons of running first thing on a Sunday morning. I decided that the pros outweighed the cons and decided to drag myself out of bed. I got dressed, went to the loo, made myself drink a glass of water, did some stretches, headed out the door into the cold – it was really cold – and waited for my Garmin to locate some satellites. Although it felt like my Garmin took forever to decided to function as a GPS, I was soon running and playing dodge the abandoned wheelie bins and bags of rubbish.

What followed was the most enjoyable 85 minutes of running I’ve experienced in a long time. My right knee behaved itself. My right heel was pain free and for once I’d planned my route to perfection. I managed to run up every hill I encountered and I conquered one of my nemesis hills. For once, I reached the end of my run and felt that I could have carried on running. The training sessions I’d missed earlier in the week had clearly not impacted my fitness levels. I got home, knocked back a couple of glasses of orange nuun, had a shower and then went back to bed for a couple of hours.Collage 31So that’s week 12 of my Great Birmingham Run training not exactly completed. Although my right knee prevented me from heading out on a couple of training runs, I’m over the moon I’ve navigated my way through 75 per cent of my selected training plan. There are four weeks to go and two of those weeks are taper weeks. I’ve got everything crossed my right knee doesn’t implode suddenly when I’m out running.

Next week’s schedule (hopefully!) contains four training runs and looks pretty challenging. Later on today, I’ve got to somehow complete a 20 minute recovery run. I’ve then got to run for 60 minutes on Wednesday and for 45 minutes on Friday. And if my right knee is still functioning, I’ll be pounding the pavements of Four Oaks for 100 minutes on Sunday morning. Although I know I’m capable of running for 100 minutes, I’m not sure how my fragile knee will react.

Training totals

  • Runs: 38
  • Time 17 hours 0 mins
  • Distance: 94.29 miles

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

Niggleometer

  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 6/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Great Birmingham Run training week 11

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

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

Monday – 20 mins easy jog

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

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

Wednesday – Rest

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

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

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

Friday – Rest

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

Saturday – 20 mins jog

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

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

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

Sunday – 10k race or time-trial

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

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

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

Training totals

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

Races/time trials

  • 5 km: 32:49
  • 10 km: 66:52

Niggleometer

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