Overcoming a slightly irrational fear and a run in Sutton Park

As always, I hope that everyone who reads this blog had a great weekend. I really must come up with a different introduction for my Monday morning blogs.

For once, I had an interesting weekend, however, I have a feeling I tried to fit too much in. I also failed to catch up on some much-needed sleep. Thanks to the early morning bedroom window bird choir and my ‘wonky’ internal alarm clock, I was wide-awake at 05:30 on Saturday morning. By 07:00 I was making the most of the lack of sunshine and was washing my friend’s car.

Following my slightly too early for a Saturday morning car washing session, after several years of avoidance, I had my first experience of parkrun timekeeping. To say that I felt a little concerned when I was handed a stopwatch is a huge understatement. I’m a massive over-thinker and I was concerned that I’d make a mistake and for the first time in the history of Sutton Park parkrun, everyone would end up with a time of 59:59. I know that parkrun is free and this wouldn’t have mattered, but I’m a runner and I know how disappointed I’d have been with an inaccurate time. Rob did his best to calm me down…Sutton Park parkrun

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

With the exception of a couple of runners who pretended they were part of parkrun but were just park runners, I don’t think there were too many major mistakes. Having said that, I don’t think I’ll be asked to be a timekeeper again 😉

The rest of my Saturday was thankfully more what I’d describe as mundane and included several hours in the garden. One of my Four Oaks friends has been having a tough time recently, so I treated them to lunch in Mere Green. I’m sure you can predict where we ate and what I ordered. One day I’ll be brave and will eat at a different restaurant and will order something different. I think I’d used up all my ‘brave’ points at parkrun. 

Early on Saturday evening, I headed into Birmingham as I wanted to see if TK Maxx had any shoes trainers suitable for work. I’d also heard some rumours about a possible yellow sticker sale. I didn’t find anything suitable for work but somehow found myself buying a running top, running vest, cotton t-shirt, pair of Crocs, mud shampoo, two bars of fancy soap, SiS tube of effervescent tablets, and sports bra. Not a bad selection of goodies for less than £60.

I do love the randomness of TK Maxx. And yes, I’m looking forward to wearing the Crocs around the house, I don’t think I’d get away with wearing them in the office 😦 Shopping failOn Sunday morning I did something I hadn’t done for far too long; I met up with Ellen and headed into Sutton Park for a morning run. It wasn’t fast and it definitely wasn’t pretty. As we are both returning from injury, we decided to run the uphill sections and to recover on some of the flat and downhill sections. This approach seemed to work quite well and we got to the end of our four-mile ‘run’ feeling niggle-free.Sutton Park selfieSunday afternoon looked something like this; shower, lunch, emails, some blogmin, a nap, some gardening, a lot of ironing, TV, dinner, more emails, food prep, work prep and an early night. Not very exciting!

I unfortunately completely failed to tick off quite a few items on my weekend ‘things to do list’ so I’m going to need to have a productive week.

Is there a parkrun volunteering role you’ve avoided? I don’t think I’ll be rushing to have a second go at timekeeping.

What is the best thing you’ve purchased in a TK Maxx? I think the 2XU tri suit I purchased for £2.00 is the best thing I’ve purchased in TK Maxx, it’s just a shame I’ve no idea where it is.

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10 years of MoRunning – enter a 2019 MoRun and be part of the celebrations (Discount Code)

Early bird entries into a race I volunteered at in 2016, 2017 and 2018 – the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park, Birmingham – are now available. Although I enjoyed volunteering and seeing people earn their MoRunning medals, I experienced some serious race and medal envy. It was definitely a case of race and medal #FOMOMORunVisual1-BI’m looking forward to running the 10k on November 16th and earning myself a unique 10th-anniversary MoRunning medal.

It’s not just about the medal. Taking part in the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park also means that I’ll be supporting and raising awareness of an amazing charity; the Movember Foundation.

What is the Movember Foundation?

MoRunning has supported The Movember Foundation since 2009 raising funds and awareness for the work they carry out. The Movember Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, all year round. The Foundation is addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

The Movember Foundation knows what works for men, and how to find and to fund the most innovative research to have both a global and local impact. The Foundation is independent of government funding, so it can challenge the status quo and invest quicker in what works. In 13 years the Foundation has funded more than 1200 men’s health projects around the world.

By 2030 the Movember Foundation will reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%.

Take part in a MoRunning event this year

2019 is the 10th year anniversary of the launch of MoRunning. The organisers would love you to join them for this incredible celebration of MoRuns supporting the Movember Foundation.TeamMiltonKeynesI think it’s safe to say that 2019 is going to be a massive year for MoRunning!

With 24 confirmed locations to date, Mini MoRuns for a third year and the option of virtual MoRunning, there will be an incredible month of MoRuns. There’s bound to be a race near you.

November 2nd

  • Aberdeen 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Hazlehead Park – 09:30am

November 3rd

  • Perth 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – North Inch – 09:30am
  • Newcastle 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Exhibition Park – 01:20pm

November 9th

  • Edinburgh 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Holyrood Park – 09:30am
  • Cardiff 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Bute Park – 09:30am
  • York 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – York Racecourse – 10:30am

November 10th

  • Swansea 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Singleton Park – 10:30am
  • Glasgow 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Glasgow Green – 10:30am
  • Peterborough 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Nene Park – 10:30am
  • Bristol 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Ashton Court – 10:30am

November 16th

  • Liverpool 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun Croxteth Park 09:30am
  • Poole 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun Upton Country Park 09:30am
  • Birmingham 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun Sutton Park 09:30am

November 17th

  • Southampton 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun MoRun – Southampton Common – 09:30am
  • Nottingham 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Wollaton Park – 09:30am
  • Milton Keynes 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Campbell Park – 09:30am
  • Manchester 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Heaton Park – 09:30am

November 23rd

  • Blackpool 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Herons Reach – 09:30am
  • Ipswich 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Chantry Park – 09:30am
  • Dublin 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Phoenix Park – 09:30am

November 24th

  • Leeds 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Roundhay Park – 09:30am
  • Whitstable & Herne Bay 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Hampton Pier – 09:30am
  • Belfast 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Stormont Park – 09:30am

November 30th

  • London 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Greenwich Park – 09:30am

2016-Leeds-StormtrooperVirtual Race November 1st to November 29th

Once again, there is also the option of taking part in a Virtual Race. Be part of MoRunning 2019 and take part in a virtual 5k, 10k or kids 1.5k MoRun supporting the Movember Foundation.

You can find out everything you need to know about the 2019 series of MoRuns here.

2019 MoRunning pricing

Early bird (July 1st – September 15th)

  • Mini MoRun – £13.20
  • 5k MoRun – £18.15
  • 10k MoRun – £22.00
  • Virtual MoRun – £13.20

Standard (September 16th – November 28th)

  • Mini MoRun – £13.20
  • 5k MoRun – £22.00
  • 10k MoRun – £24.20
  • Virtual MoRun – £13.20

Prices including online booking fees. 

**10% Discount Code – MoRun19_Followers**

MoRunners Receive

  • Race chip timing and instant race results
  • Brand new exclusive MoRunning Medal to add to your collection!
  • MoRunning Headband
  • MoRunning BUFF
  • Legend and Superhero medals for best fancy dress and legends of MoRunning
  • Discount of 10% for groups of 4 or more registering the same distance (code for booking MR19-TeamEntry)
  • Yellow Winners Jersey for 1st male and female in the 5k and 10k events as well as a Champion medal and free entry to 2020
  • Professional photos to view and purchase (you can pre-order ahead of your race and save over 60% on the standard price)
  • 10% discount voucher code for online purchases from Up and Running
  • 10% discount voucher for any Go Ape site

Mini MoRunners* Receive

  • Free super cool Mini Mo T-Shirt
  • MoRunning headband
  • Free MoRunning Buff
  • Mo Medal
  • Champion medal for 1st boy and girl
  • Yazoo Drink
  • Loads of high fives

* Please note that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure children are able to run the Mini MoRun unaccompanied. If required one parent can run with Mini MoRunners free of charge.MiniMo_family1-AI’m already looking forward to taking part in my local MoRun in Sutton Park November. Hopefully, it will be a case of fourth time lucky. I’ve already talked some of my running friends into entering; it would be awesome to meet some of you there.

Could you run a 5k or 10k for The Movember Foundation this November?

For loads more information and to sign up please click here.

For more information about the Movember Foundation please click here.

The Movember Foundation is a Registered Charity No.1137948 (England/Wales) SC041981 (Scotland)

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with MoRunning. All photographs were taken from MoRunning’s website** 

Running goals for 2019: Progress report

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend and that Monday wasn’t too much of a chore. As it’s now July – seriously, how quickly is this year going? – I thought I’d write a quick (lack of) progress report on my 2019 running goals.

Run 1000km – I started the year with loads of good intentions; one was to run 1000km. Thanks to the combination of injuries, and a complete loss of running mojo, my running has been sporadic. I’ve just checked out my training log on Fetcheveryone. So far in 2019, I’ve run approximately 51km. Not recording all of my training runs was a mistake. I don’t think I’ll get near my 1000km target but that’s okay.Injured runner

[Source]

Complete 10 races – I haven’t completed a single organised race. Thanks to the reasons I gave above I’ve not made it to the start line of every single race I’ve entered this year. I don’t want to think about how much money I’ve wasted on race entry fees!

Complete 15 parkruns – Back in January, I was quietly confident I would be able to complete 15 parkruns. Sutton Park parkrun is just over three miles from my front door; I had visions of relaxing runs to and from parkrun. The reality is a little different as I’ve only completed one parkrun.

Volunteer 10 times at parkrun – Now this is one running goal I’ll definitely achieve. It’s been very much a case of ‘can’t run, can volunteer’.

parkrun volunteering

I’ve checked out my parkrun volunteer stats and so far in 2019 I’ve marshalled 4 times, written the run report once, tail walked once and handed out finish tokens once. This Saturday I’m having a go at timekeeping.

A sub 8-minute mile – I didn’t head down to London for the Vitality Westminster Mile. My official mile PB remains a very beatable 9:09. Perhaps I should focus on short distances during the second half of 2019.

A sub 25-minute 5k – I think it’s safe to say my only official 5k time of 57:04 is a long way from a sub-25 minute time. The way I’m feeling at the moment, I can’t see me ever getting below 30 minutes again.

A sub 60-minute 10k – I’m yet to complete an official 10k race this year. I’m hoping to complete the Shenstone Fun Run later this month; it will be good to get some sort of benchmark.

A sub 2:15 half marathon – I had grand plans of running a decent time at the London Landmarks Half Marathon. However, the reality was a little different. I completed most of my training runs in the lead up to the London Landmarks and then picked up some sort of office lurgy which refused to go away.  The result? Another DNS!

Listen to my niggles – This is another running goal I’ll definitely achieve. I’ve had so many injuries this year, I’ve now reached the stage I’m almost scared of running. I’m also starting to suspect a lot of niggles are a figment of my imagination.

Improve my core strength – This is another running goal success story. I’m hoping that all the workouts I’ve been completing will start to benefit my running.Clean House Injured Runner

[Source]

Run with others more – Whenever I’ve pulled on my trainers and run, I’ve made more effort to run with others. Although I didn’t get to run with Run Wallingford before I moved back home, I’ve found myself some Birmingham-based running groups to join.

Train consistently – Does consistently training inconsistently count?

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – So far this final running-related goal is more possibly more failure than success. I’ve just worked out how much I’ve spent on running gear, and had a bit of a shock. Having said that, I’ve sold such a lot of unwanted running gear online, I’ve probably ‘made’ more money than I’ve spent.

I think it’s quite obvious that the first half of 2019 wasn’t great from a running perspective. At times I’ve felt like selling all of my running gear. Some people may be questioning the point of this rather negative running goal progress update. I decided to publish this update as I think it’s important to write about the not-so-positive aspects of running.

How are you progressing with your running goals? Hopefully better than I am with mine 🙂

Do you think I should readjust all of my goals or rule out this year and start again next year? I’ve reached the stage I’m about to ‘write-off’ 2019 and will start again next year.

Rants and raves #36

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after treating a relative to breakfast at the local farm shop. Because I have a full-time job, nine times out of ten I end up treating people. I sometimes wonder how I’m ever going to save enough money to get on the property ladder. I’m going to have to learn how to say no. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Monday, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m working from home today as I need to prepare for a two-day training course in London.

Rave: My 40th birthday

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues and ‘Wallingford family’ – I knew they were plotting something but had no idea exactly what – I had an amazing day. I’ve included a few photos; I would have included more but don’t want to risk getting in trouble.

Highlights included a huge cooked breakfast at the Old Post Office in Wallingford, lunch at the Waterfront Cafe in Benson, an amazing chocolate cake made by my colleague Sally, and a few too many drinks in the evening. I’m going to miss everyone when my fixed term contract ends next month.

Rant: My 40th birthday

The rest of my birthday was a tad disappointing. I don’t want to complain, but most of my close family didn’t even send me a card. I know I haven’t always been the best daughter/sister/aunt and people have busy lives, but I still felt slightly offended.

Happy Birthday

[Source]

Having to explain to colleagues that I hadn’t seen most of my family was quite difficult. I guess there’s always next week. Once I’d stopped feeling sorry for myself I decided to buy myself some birthday presents. Thanks to TK Maxx, I’m now the proud owner of a new Radley watch and purse.

Rave: Recognition for this blog

I know this has featured as a rave before so sorry if you suddenly experience a spot of déjà vu. When I started writing this blog I had no idea if anyone would actually read it. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve felt like calling it a day but haven’t because I really enjoy writing.

I was over the moon when I recently discovered I’d made it into Vuelio’s top 10 running blogs for a third consecutive year. I was given the opportunity to complete a Blogger spotlight interview and was able to share my favourite running blogs.Blogger Spotlight 2019If you haven’t already, please check out the five awesome running bloggers I highlighted in my interview.

Rant: The Weather

Since my last rants and raves blog, the weather has been a tad disappointing and somewhat unpredictable. I’ve lost count of the number of times it’s rained during my morning walk into the office and at lunchtime. I shouldn’t complain too much as the southeast of England desperately needs more rain. It would be good it if could rain during the night.

Last week, I completed my fifth and final Thames Water Situation Report. After three consecutive dry winters, I have a feeling I’m escaping from a stressful summer. If it doesn’t rain a lot more, my current team are going to be very busy this summer. My new role has the potential to be equally as stressful as I’ll be providing hydrological support to the whole of England. Nothing will go wrong!

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

I’ve definitely caught the parkrun volunteering bug. My fragile right knee means that it’s unlikely I’ll ever attempt to complete another Sutton Park parkrun. The first half of the course is uneven and the numerous steep downhill sections make my knee twinge. I’ve really enjoyed my recent volunteering stints. Tail walking gave me a completely different perspective of parkrun. It also gave me a what I call a ‘kick up the arse’ photo.

Marshal briefingSutton Park parkrun tail walker

[Photos: Peter Heafield]

The healthier eating has now started.

This may sound slightly geeky but I’ve got a favourite marshalling location. I love ‘position 10’ as it’s in a busy part of Sutton Park at the top of a longish hill. When people reach me they have completed the most challenging sections of the course and it’s downhill to the finish.Sutton Park parkrun

IMG_3649When I’m feeling brave I may have a go at timekeeping. The Core Team keep telling me it’s easy and that there is always a backup timer.

Rant: Having to leave Wallingford

At the end of 2017 and the beginning of last year I was dreading having to move to Wallingford. I think it’s safe to say I was shitting myself and I shared some of my fears in what became one of my most highly viewed posts.

After a slightly rocky start, I’ve had the most amazing time in Wallingford. I’ve made some amazing friends that I’ll be in contact with for life, and I’m now feeling sad that the end of my fixed term contract is rapidly approaching. I’m incredibly fortunate because I’ve landed myself an amazing new job within the EA, however, leaving Wallingford is going to be difficult. There will be tears on my final day.

Rave: Alysia Montaño

I had heard horror stories about Nike and other top brands dropping sponsored athletes for petty reasons like getting pregnant before. After reading this opinion piece, I now have even more respect for Alysia Montaño.

Rant: Public transport

I’m aware that this is another repeat rant, but I’ve had far too many not very positive bus and train journeys recently. For the amount I pay to travel between Oxford and Birmingham I should as a minimum feel safe. I think all evening trains should introduce compulsory alcohol breath tests before people are allowed to board.

Getting to my new job is going to involve two trains and an hour plus journey from north to south Birmingham. I can’t wait…

And finally, a (sort of) bonus rave. I’ve decided to conclude all of my ‘rants and raves’ posts with a random music recommendation.

Rave: Exposé – Let Me Be The One

I’m a huge fan of 80s/early 90s music so to start with I’d like to introduce you to ‘Let me be the One’ by Exposé.

Expose
[Source]

I sometimes wish I could just go back in time to the late 80s, I could listen to cheesy music all day.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of rants and raves, then a huge “thank-you”. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans with you.

Have your family ever forgotten your birthday? I have a feeling that most other families are slightly more reliable than mine.   

Do you have a favourite parkrun volunteering role? I would love to have a go at barcode scanning but have heard a few too many horror stories.

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**

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