Great Birmingham Run training week 5

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I can’t believe that it’s almost August, time really does seem to fly as you get older.Collage 9Week 5 saw me complete the third and final week of the ‘building’ phase of my half marathon training plan. It also saw me adopt a new, hopefully more positive approach to my running. If I’m honest, during the last four weeks, I haven’t always enjoyed my training runs. My rather injury-prone body means that a ‘proper’ injury could strike at any moment, so I’ve decided to try to enjoy every run. My training during week 5 comprised of 20 minute runs on Tuesday and Thursday and a slightly longer 35 minute run on Sunday. So how did I find the fifth week of half marathon training?

Monday – Rest

I spent the majority of the morning catching up on some overdue boring admin tasks. Although I’m 38, I’m not very organised and I’m useless at prioritising and responding to emails. I spent the afternoon job hunting and updating my LinkedIn and ResearchGate profiles and the evening working on a book review. Another dull but incredibly productive start to the week.

Tuesday – 20 mins easy

I had originally planned to get up early to get my 20 minute run done and dusted before 06:00. Unfortunately, insomnia struck again, I was still awake at 01:30 and somehow managed to sleep through my 05:30 alarm. I eventually headed out on my run after 08:00. Although the schools have finished for the summer, the 2 mile route I had selected was quite busy and I found myself dodging several dog walkers, smokers and oblivious drivers. Week five had got off to a positive start.

After spending the rest of the morning preparing for a meeting, I boarded the 12:50 train to London Euston. This time the signals behaved themselves and I actually made it to my meeting with the careers office. Meeting over, I headed across to the Gunmakers pub to meet up with my mentor. As we had both missed lunch and it was far too early for a main evening meal, we decided to have a look at the bar snack menu. Although the menu was quite limited  I decided to try the Buttermilk fried chicken sandwich. It was ‘interesting’.Collage 10A couple of hours later I found myself back in Hardy’s, ordering fish and chips followed by Gooseberry Fool. My friend tried and failed to convince me to order something different. When it comes to food my motto has and always will be “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Wednesday – Rest

The train journey from London to Birmingham was uneventful; the journey from Birmingham to Four Oaks was a nightmare. Once I’d recovered from the train journey from hell, I decided to start mapping out the academic paper I’d rather foolishly promised my PhD supervisor I’d complete by the middle of August. Given that it took me six months to write my last paper, I suspect my supervisor will be disappointed.

Thursday – 20 mins easy

As Tuesday’s 20 minute easy run had felt relatively easy, I decided to attempt my slightly more challenging two-mile loop. After spending the morning making very little progress on my academic paper, by lunchtime I felt more than ready for my 20 minute run. I got changed into some running gear, spent 30 minutes working through my PF exercises and stretches, looked out the window and saw it was raining. I love running in the rain, so I pulled on my waterproof running jacket and headed out the door.

Unfortunately, I’d only been running for a minute or so when the rain stopped and the sun came out. Next time, I won’t trust the BBC forecast! I realised that I’d set out at a pace I couldn’t maintain and that I was rapidly overheating. I could feel my face getting warmer and warmer. I think I managed to run for about 15 minutes before I slowed to a walk so that I could remove my jacket. Although I immediately felt cooler, the damage had been done and the rest of the ‘run’ was a struggle. So much for not complaining and enjoying each and every run!

Friday – Rest

When I woke up I discovered that I’d got a pretty bad headache. Although I don’t think it was a migraine, I felt so nauseous and dizzy, running probably wouldn’t have been sensible. Fortunately, Friday was a rest day so I didn’t have to spend hours mentally debating the pros and cons of running with a bad head. My headache unfortunately meant that I had a seriously unproductive day. At least it was an incredibly restful rest day.

Saturday – Rest

After somehow sleeping for more than 10 hours, I woke up feeling refreshed and headache free. A great start to the weekend. I spent the morning catching up on the household chores I’d been unable to complete the previous day. As an added bonus I finally finished a couple of slightly overdue product reviews.Collage 11In the evening, I swapped my trainers and scruffy clothes for something slightly more respectable, and met up with some friends for a meal and drinks at the local pub. As I knew I would be attempting to run for 35 minutes the following morning, I was reasonably sensible and limited myself to three pints. My friends were suitably unimpressed. Apparently I’m quite boring when I’m sober(ish). As I didn’t want to wake up feeling dehydrated, I made myself drink a pink of water before I went to bed.

Sunday – 35 mins easy

When my alarm woke me at 06:00 my mouth felt like the Sahara and I felt like death warmed up. After debating postponing my run, I made myself get out of bed, got dressed, had a drink, worked my way through some PF stretches, went to the loo and headed out the door. Fortunately, although it was reasonably sunny it was lovely and cool.  After struggling to run for 20 minutes on Thursday, I was sensible and made sure that I set out at a sensible pace. My approach worked and I found the 35 minute run reasonably easy.

So that’s the fifth week of my half marathon training more or less successfully completed, only another 11 weeks to go. Once again, I was reminded that I’m still pretty useless at pacing myself, and that I need to start my training runs at a pace I can sustain. Next week’s training schedule contains a 20 minute run, a 30 minute run and a longer 40-45 minute run on Sunday. Last year I aimed to run for 45 minutes, this year it will be a miracle if I manage to run for 40 minutes.

Training totals

  • Runs: 15
  • Time: 4 hours 25 mins
  • Distance: 24.94 miles


  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 6/10

Do you tend to always order the same food when you eat out? I’d like to think that other people are slightly more ambitious than I am.

How much sleep do you aim to get each night? At the moment my sleep patterns are all over the place.

Great Birmingham Run training week 4

Once again, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. Thanks for all of the comments on my last training update. As my family and friends don’t understand my obsession with running, I really do appreciate all of the support.Collage 8Week 4 saw me complete the second week of the ‘building’ phase of my beginners’ half marathon training plan. The plan comprised of a back-to-back training run on Monday, a 20 minute run on Thursday and a slightly longer and potentially challenging (for me!) 30 minute run on Sunday. So how did I find the fourth week of half marathon training?

Monday – 10 mins taken very easy

Last week I stated that nothing beats starting the week with a rest day. Unfortunately, week 4 of my half marathon training plan had me completing my first back-to-back training run at a “very easy pace”. What could possibly go wrong?  Although I found the 10 minute run easy, when I checked my Garmin I discovered that I’d been running at anything but a “very easy” pace. I really do need to learn how to slow down and how to pace myself. I seem to remember having the same issues with pacing last year.

The rest of Monday was so mundane and uneventful I won’t bore you with the details.

Tuesday – Rest

If I ignore the mile or so walk to and from the Post Office to post my latest batch of FleaBay sales, I followed the training plan and did very little exercise. Once I’d finished reviewing yet another thrilling unpublished academic manuscript, I watched England beat South Africa in the first semi-final of the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

Wednesday – Rest

Although I do love running, my right heel was still feeling quite sore first thing in the morning so I was pleased the training plan said “Rest”. Following on from the success of last week, I decided to work my way through a selection of plantar fasciitis rehab exercises and calf stretches. I also attempted some of the beginner exercises in the Pilates for Runners  book I’m currently reviewing.

Thursday – 20 mins steady

After spending the morning completing yet another job application, by the time it got to midday, I needed a break from my computer. Fortunately, Thursday was a run rather than a rest day. My training plan said “20 minutes steady” so I set out with the aim of running at a slightly faster pace. Although I found running along the uneven pavements of Four Oaks Estate challenging, I gave myself a good talking-to, and managed to avoid walking when I was meant to be running.

I asked my friend to take some photographs of me after my run. I wanted to see exactly how I looked after drinking and eating far too much since the start of the year.Not the best photos...Although I’ve already lost a couple of kilograms since I started half marathon training, I’ve still got a long, long way to go. I don’t think I’ll be wearing that unflattering Lululemon top again…

Friday – Rest

Another rather mundane but incredibly restful rest day. I attempted some of the easier exercises in the Pilates for Runners book and was reminded that I’m not very flexible.

Saturday – Rest

Another rainy rest day, slightly frustrating for a runner who loves running when it’s raining. Unfortunately, although the day started well, it ended badly when I discovered that I’d missed yet another family party. You can choose your friends…. At least my dodgy right heel felt relatively pain-free, I won’t mention my left foot. I went to sleep feeling reasonably confident about running for 30 minutes the following morning.

Sunday – 30 mins jog

For some reason I woke up well before my 06:00 alarm and couldn’t get back to sleep. After lying in bed for what felt like hours, I decided to get up and get my 30 minute run done. I got dressed, worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches, went to the loo, knocked back a glass of water, switched on my Garmin and headed out on my run.

For once I was sensible and set out at a very, very steady pace. About 10 minutes into my run, I spotted a very soggy looking £10 lying on the pavement. I’m not ashamed to admit that I instantly stopped jogging so that I could grab the £10 note. The remainder of the 30 minutes was uneventful and actually felt relatively easy. I just wish that the ache in my left foot would go away.

I returned from my run, worked my way through some post-run stretches, drank a couple of glasses of orange nuun and soaked my feet in a bowl of cold water. I had a quick shower and returned to bed for a couple of hours. I then spent most of the day watching England win the Women’s Cricket World Cup.

So that’s week four of my half marathon training plan completed. Once again I was reminded that I could never complete a running streak as my fragile feet don’t like back-to-back training runs. Next week’s training schedule contains two 20 minute runs and a slightly longer 35 minute run on Sunday. I’ve also pencilled in a couple of Pilates and foam rolling sessions.

Training totals

  • Runs: 12
  • Time: 3 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 18.09 miles


  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 5/10

Do you do yoga or Pilates? Although I’ve made several half-hearted attempts to work my way through some of the less challenging Jasyoga videos, I’ve never actually been to a ‘proper’ yoga class.

Would you stop during a run to pick up money? Finding a £10 note was definitely the highlight of my run yesterday.

Great Birmingham Run training week 3

I hope that everyone had a really good weekend. Thanks for all of the comments on last week’s training update. Hopefully this week’s update will be slightly more positive.Collage 6Week 3 saw me progress from the ‘getting started’ to the first week of the ‘building’ phase of my half marathon training plan. To be honest, I feel so unfit at the moment, I was concerned that moving onto the next phase of training was a little ambitious. Fortunately, I remembered that the training sessions in week 3 were identical to those I’d successfully completed the previous week. Panic over!

Monday – Rest

Nothing beats starting the week with a rest day. My right heel was quite sore in the morning, so I worked my way through the plantar fasciitis rehab exercises I downloaded from Kinetic Revolution and the calf stretches recommended on the Rehab4Runners site. Fortunately, my heel felt much better afterwards.

Following a rather unproductive morning, I spent the remainder of the day writing cover letters and CVs for a couple of hydrologist jobs. Fingers crossed my applications get me at least one interview invite.

Tuesday – 15 mins jog

As I didn’t feel 100 per cent when I woke up at 05:30, I decided to delay my run until later in the day. I spent most of the morning reviewing a couple of not very interesting unpublished manuscripts. By midday I was more than ready for a break from reading about environmental flows. I got changed into some running gear, worked my way through my PF stretches and headed out on what I hoped would be a 15 minute jog.

I had originally planned to run for approximately eight minutes, turn around, and run back home. My plan failed, and I found myself running along a main road. What was an enjoyable run, could have been ruined by a man in a van calling me a “fat c**t”. Luckily for me, the man was driving a fully branded company van; this enabled me to report the driver when I got home. My email might not make any difference, but I felt better after hitting send!

Wednesday – Rest

Another rest day and another dull but productive day of job hunting, manuscript reviewing, blog admin, emails, decluttering, foam rolling and household chores.

Thursday – 10 mins jog

I dragged myself out of bed, got changed into some running gear and spent 30 minutes working through a random selection of PF exercises and stretches. For once I set out at a sensible pace and found the mile I covered in 10 minutes quite enjoyable. As an added bonus the hecklers stayed away. After spending the rest of the morning drafting out some ideas for an academic paper, I boarded the 12:50 train to London Euston. The second I sat down, I discovered that the line into London was closed due to yet another signalling failure. Awesome! After power walking the short distance to Birmingham Moor Street, I reached London an hour later than originally planned.Collage 7I hobbled the short distance from Marylebone station to my friends flat, let myself in, dumped my rucksack and headed to The Gunmakers to meet up with my PhD supervisor. For some reason, I thought that drinking two bottles of Crabbie’s and a pint of beer after I’d missed lunch was a good idea. It wasn’t. By the time Kate arrived I was feeling slightly – a massive understatement – tipsy, so we headed straight to Hardy’s. I decided to play it safe and opted for fish and chips followed by Gooseberry Fool. Quite appropriate for this fool!

Friday – Rest

It’s a good job Friday was a rest day as I woke up feeling dehydrated with a fuzzy head. The emergency post-booze McDonald’s breakfast I consumed didn’t help and the journey home was challenging. Once I’d recovered from my hangover, I spent thirty minutes working through some of the slightly less challenging Jasyoga reset videos. After a much needed powernap, I spent the evening watching the European U23 athletics. Definitely a restful rest day!

Saturday – Rest

According to Great Run, Saturday marked three months until the Great Birmingham Run! My heel celebrated the milestone by feeling really niggly. Every time I stood up after sitting down for any period of time, my heel reminded me that it wasn’t 100 per cent fixed. Not ideal, but the niggle meant that I rested as much as I could and had a boring but productive day. I tackled the pile of washing that had built up during the week, ordered a couple of birthday presents for my soon to be seven year old niece and watched England beat the West Indies in the Women’s Cricket World Cup. Fortunately, my heel started to feel a lot better towards the end of the day, and I felt confident I’ll be able to run the following morning.

Sunday – 20 mins jog

Once again, I set my alarm for 05:30 and found myself dressed – obviously! – and out the door before 06:15. Unfortunately, my right heel felt quite sore for the first five minutes or so, and I was aware that I was running like a wonky donkey. Although my dodgy heel did eventually warm up, my legs felt like lead and the 20 minute run was not much fun. I got home, made myself drink a pint of water and orange nuun and then treated my feet to a 30 minute ice bath. Not the most positive end to the third week of half marathon training.

So that’s the third week of my half marathon training plan more or less successfully completed, only another 13 weeks and training updates to go. I was reminded that unfortunately, not everyone is supportive of runners and that I’m still useless at running in humid conditions. I’ve had a peek at next week’s training schedule; I’ll be completing my first back-to-back session tomorrow morning. The duration of my midweek run increases from 15 to 20 minutes and my longer run on Sunday from 20 to 30 minutes. After struggling to run for 20 minutes on Sunday because of my heel, I genuinely have no idea if I’ll be able to run continuously for 30 minutes next week.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 2 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 12.49 miles


  • Right heel: 5/10
  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

When do you prefer to run? I think I’m starting to rediscover my love of running first thing in the morning. It’s cooler, there’s very little traffic and I have the pavements to myself.

A rather random question, but what is your favourite nuun flavour? Much as I like orange nuun, I’d quite like to try a few more flavours.

Rants and raves #16

**Disclaimer: I’m writing my latest random selection of rants and raves after returning from a particularly difficult run. I’m also experiencing severe summer holiday FOMO. As always, all rants, raves and opinions represent my own views. Other (far, far superior) less opinionated and negative running blogs are available**

Happy Thursday! I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable week. If, like me, your week hasn’t been very positive, just think, it’s very nearly the weekend.

Rave: Running

I know I started with the same rave last time, but my dodgy feet are still *fingers crossed* behaving themselves. Although I’m so unfit at the moment every training session is challenging, I’m finally starting to enjoy running again. I’ve now reached the third week of my half marathon training plan and *touch wood* my fitness levels will start to improve soon.

Rant: Flying ants and other evil flying things

Although I enjoy running outside, I don’t love the flying ants and other random flying things I’ve encountered this summer. I’ve got bites in some slightly dubious locations, and I’ve lost count of the number of flies I’ve inhaled while I’m


On the plus side, I discovered that calling into the local shop to buy some post-run water with an insect stuck on my face was a great conversation starter.

Rave: The Weather

Last time I complained about the wet weather and the disappearance of summer. This time I’m going to rave about the weather. Although running in the heat and humidity we’ve been experiencing recently has been challenging, nothing beats spending time outdoors in the sunshine.  The hoards of people I see drinking outside my local pub definitely agree with me, it’s just a shame that some people can’t handle their beer…

Rant: Hecklers

I blogged about this subject two years ago  but for some reason, the warmer weather seems to turn some people into complete idiots. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been heckled by drunken men this year. Since when did it become acceptable to call someone a fat c**t?running-while-female-street-harassment


Only last week I was heckled by a group of chavs in a souped-up Corsa as I walked back from the train station. As you can imagine, I was devastated when 10 minutes later I discovered the same group of chavs had been pulled over by the police. Talk about instant karma.

Rave: The Big Sleuth Birmingham

In my opinion, anything that gets people outside is a huge positive. Back in the summer of 2015, The Big Hoot got a lot of people in Birmingham searching for owls and raised a huge amount of money for charity. This summer the owls have been replaced with bears.  Hopefully The Big Sleuth will be as successful as The Big Hoot.Collage 5

Only another 97 bears to find…

Rant: H&M Sizing

A couple of weeks ago I found myself trying on denim shorts in my local H&M. Although I love their cheap and cheerful summer clothes, their sizing was a farce. Now I’m aware that I’m not a Size 10 at the moment, but I don’t think I’m a Size 18. From what I’ve read online, I’m not the only person who thinks the sizing in H&M is a joke and potentially quite dangerous.

After leaving H&M empty-handed, I managed to track down some denim shorts in Fat Face. Their Size 12 shorts fitted me perfectly.

Raves: Decluttering

To say I’m a bit of a hoarder would be a massive understatement. I find it really hard to part with my possessions, and was devastated when I discovered mum had thrown out my old school books. For some reason she kept all of my school reports, thanks mum!

At the start of the year I decided it was time to make an effort to declutter my junk and started to sort through my old running gear. It’s now July and I’m pleased to report I’ve made great progress and have sold loads of my unwanted gear on FleaBay. Next week I’m going to make a start on my ‘normal’ clothes. If I suddenly stop posting on social media, I probably fell out of my loft.

Once again, if you’ve reached the end of my latest selection of moans and groans then thank-you.

Have you been heckled this summer?

Are you a hoarder?

Thriva Lifestyle test review

Regular readers of my blog – thank-you! – will have noticed me commenting on my terrible diet a lot recent. My diet has been far from ideal since the start of the year. I’ve been drinking too much alcohol and eating too much junk food.  One day last month, after yet another evening of excessive alcohol consumption, I woke up feeling and looking particularly peaky. I suspect my body was telling me it could no longer cope with my unhealthy lifestyle.


Rather fortuitously, my friend Anna shared her most recent set of Thriva test results on social media on the same day. I had never heard of Thriva so went away and did some research.

What is Thriva?

To put it simply, Thriva is a smart, finger-prick blood test that you can use at home. Once you’ve taken the home test, you post your blood sample back to one of Thriva’s accredited partner laboratories. Your blood sample is analysed to provide data on how your lifestyle is impacting your health. The results of these analyses are then uploaded onto Thriva, where you receive a bespoke report and recommendations from a GP with guidance on how to improve your lifestyle if required.

Thriva currently produce six different individual tests:

  • Lifestyle
  • Energy
  • Thyroid check
  • Advanced thyroid check
  • Testosterone
  • Vitamin B12

In addition, Thriva have produced a baseline subscription kit which enables people to track their health over time by receiving a test kit every three months.

The Lifestyle test is designed to help you find out how your lifestyle might be impacting your health. Just what I needed. I wanted to know if my slightly dubious lifestyle had negatively impacted my health.

What’s tested?

Cholesterol – High cholesterol is increasingly common in the UK and impacts your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and related illnesses.

  • LDL Cholesterol
  • Cholesterol
  • Triglycerides
  • HDL Cholesterol
  • Cholesterol Ratio

Liver function – This includes a full check of the key liver enzymes which, if raised, indicate poor liver health. Excessive alcohol, over eating and drug use can cause problems with your liver. Liver damage is often linked to chronic fatigue and other serious symptoms.

  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Gamma GT
  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Alanine Transferase
  • Bilirubin
  • Total Protein

I set up an account on Thriva, answered a few basic lifestyle questions and parted with my money. Two days later my Thriva kit arrived. I opened the box, read through the instructions, took one look at one of the lancets provided and bottled out of collecting my blood sample.

A week later I received a friendly reminder from Thriva and decided that it was time to be brave!

What was included in the Lifestyle test kit?

The Thriva Lifestyle test kit included everything I required to take my finger-prick blood test, including detailed, easy-to-follow instructions.

My kit also included:

  • 1x sample collection tube
  • 1x alcohol swab
  • 1x moist wipe
  • 2x plasters
  • Spring loaded lancets (2 spares)
  • 1x plastic protective casing
  • Return form and envelope 

DSCF2231DSCF2228Performing the test

After reading through the instructions for the fifth time and checking that I’d got everything set up, I finally felt brave enough to perform my test. Looking back, I’ve no idea how or why I managed to get myself so worked up. Although using the lancet was a little painful, the whole process took under five minutes. I placed my labelled sample in the pre-paid envelope and put it in the post.

My personalised health report

Less than 24 hours after I’d sent off my sample, Thriva sent me an email to inform me my sample had arrived at the lab. Later on the same day my personalised health report arrived.

I actually felt quite nervous when I accessed my report and results…

“Hi Emma, I am pleased to say your test results are all with normal limits. You have a healthy BMI and you seem to be following a regular exercise regime as much as you can taking into account your ankle injury, well done and please keep it up, however please see my advice on diet. Thanks”

Lipid ProfileLiver Function

Although all of my results appear to be in the green (healthy) range, I think that my Cholesterol is probably a lot closer to the orange (not so healthy!) zone than it should be. In addition, the GP who reviewed my results recommended that in order to improve my diet, I should aim to reduce saturated fats in my diet.

As a result of this recommendation I’ve made several changes to my diet.

The Verdict

Thriva really impressed me and I would be happy to recommend the Lifestyle test to anyone who wants to find out if their lifestyle might be impacting their health. The whole process was quick and simple. The instructions provided were detailed and very easy to follow. As soon as I can afford to I’ll definitely be subscribing to the 3-monthly baseline subscription kit.

More information on Thriva is available on their website. The Thriva Lifestyle test kit has a RRP of £39.00 (I tracked down a discount code and managed to purchase the kit for £29.00).

**Full disclosure: I bought the Thriva Lifestyle test kit myself. I was not asked to review the Lifestyle kit, but decided to share my honest thoughts on something I personally found useful. As always, all opinions and dodgy photographs are my own**

Great Birmingham Run training week 2

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I’m quite nosey and can’t wait to read about what you all got up to, so please get blogging. After I successfully navigated my way through the first week of my beginners’ half marathon training plan, I was hoping for a niggle-free second week of training.Collage 4I’m so injury-prone, I’ve got quite obsessive over warming-up before and cooling-down after each training run. I’ve actually spent more time warming-up and attempting to cool-down – challenging in the warmer weather – than I have actually running.

The second week of my training plan is described as ‘getting started 2’and comprised of a 10 minute jog on Tuesday, a 15 minute jog on Thursday and a slightly longer 15-20 minute jog on Sunday. Here are my thoughts on the second week of half marathon training.

Monday – Rest

After spending over two hours searching for and failing to find any hydrologist jobs, I spent most of Monday feeling rather depressed. I’ll be totally honest with you all; the interview last week went so well I thought I’d be offered the job. The person interviewing me discussed my potential salary, holiday entitlement and other perks, so receiving another ‘thanks but no thanks’ phone call came as quite a shock and knocked my confidence.

Following a not very productive morning, I spent the afternoon packaging up my latest pile of FleaBay sales and setting myself a timetable and some targets for the week. I also made myself head out for a short walk around Four Oaks.

Tuesday – 10 mins jog

Although my daily job search was fruitless, Tuesday morning was reasonably productive. I caused a queue at the local Post Office and remembered to drop my pill prescription off at Boots. I was so busy replying to blog related emails, I completely lost track of the time and didn’t get ready for my run until 13:00. I worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches, knocked back some water and stepped outside.

When did it get so hot!?

I’m so unfit at the moment I found jogging for 10 minutes quite challenging. I managed to cover exactly a mile in 10 minutes, probably slightly too speedy for a ‘jog’ but a good start to the second week of training. I got home, worked my way through some more stretches, iced my foot and then proceeded to do a great impression of ‘Barry the Beetroot’ for well over an hour. Awesome!

Wednesday – Rest

With the exception of a short walk to my local Sainsbury’s, I actually followed the training plan and did no exercise. I spent the majority of the day watching England beat South Africa in the Women’s Cricket World Cup. In the evening, I found myself reading other blogs and feeling slightly jealous. I can’t wait to find a job, spending all day on my own definitely isn’t doing my mental health any favours.

Thursday – 15 mins jog

After nearly melting on Tuesday, I decided it would be sensible to run first thing in the morning before it got too hot. My alarm went off at 05:30, I reached out, switched it off and immediately went back to sleep. An early morning run fail! After spending most of the day struggling to concentrate due the heat – my office is tiny and felt like a sauna – I finally headed out for a 15 minute run in the evening. It took me approximately 30 seconds to realise that it was still boiling hot and humid, never a winning combination for an unfit runner. Looking back, I’ve no idea how I managed to run for 15 minutes without stopping but I did. I spent the rest of the evening trying to cool down.

Friday – Rest

When I got out of bed, I was over the moon to discover that my fragile right foot was pain-free less than 12 hours after I’d completed a 15 minute run. I wasn’t quite as thrilled when I discovered the Great Birmingham Run was only 100 days away. I found running for 20 minutes so challenging, I seriously questioned whether I’d be able to run a half marathon in 100 days time. The rest of Friday was uneventful but productive. While most people probably made the most of the sunshine and headed out for a few beers, I spent the evening watching Wimbledon.

Saturday – Rest

While most sensible runners were at parkrun, I was tackling my mountain of ironing. Fortunately, my Saturday did improve. As part of ‘operation move’ I spent the morning sorting through some more of the junk in the loft. I was quite shocked to discover two Garmin Forerunner GPS watches, three Nike running watches and a couple of iPods. I had no idea that I’d wasted so much money on running accessories in the past. Definitely a case of all the kit still shit!Collage 5In the afternoon, I headed across Birmingham to the University to collect a couple of books. While I was at the university I managed to track down my first three Big Sleuth bears, only another 97 bears to find. In the evening I met up with my friend Kate for a couple of beers. After last week’s drunken race entry shenanigans I made sure that stopped drinking after two pints.

Sunday – 15-20 mins jog

After struggling in the heat and humidity on Thursday, I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to be warmed-up and ready to run by 06:00. For some reason I found the 20 minute run far more challenging this time, so much for progress and getting fitter. Rather worryingly, even after spending 30 minutes working through my PF stretches, my right heel felt quite niggly for the first five minutes of my run. Walking three miles in flat shoes the previous evening had clearly made my PF flare up a little.

I returned from my run, knocked back a pint of water and soaked my feet in a bowl of cold water. I had a shower and returned to bed for a couple of hours. I then spent the majority of the day watching England finally beat Australia in a Women’s Cricket World Cup match, and listing more bits and pieces on FleaBay.

So that’s the second week of half marathon training more or less successfully completed, only another 14 weeks to go. Apologies for the rather gloomy post, hopefully I’ll feel more positive next week. I’ve looked at the training schedule for next week – the start of the ‘building’ phase – and the training runs appear to be exactly the same. I’ve got everything crossed that the niggle in my left foot doesn’t turn out to be another stress fracture.

Training totals

  • Runs: 6
  • Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Distance: 8.13 miles


  • Right heel: 4/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Do you think it’s more important to warm-up before or to cool-down after a run? I’ve heard so many conflicting opinions over the years, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Would you get involved in The Big Sleuth bear hunt if you lived in Birmingham? My friend Kate was horrified when I showed her my bear photos!

Great Birmingham Run training week 1

After hopefully overcoming a stubborn bout of Plantar Fasciitis (PF) in my right heel, I’ve decided to risk running more regularly, with the aim of completing the Great Birmingham Run in October. Last Monday saw the start of the 16-week half marathon training plan I’ve selected. As my running has been severely limited this year, I decided to opt for the beginners’ half marathon training plan I followed last year.

Collage 1

I’ll start with some honesty and with some facts. Last year I weighed 76.6 kg when I started half marathon training, had built up a decent running base and felt reasonably fit. This year I weigh 81.7 kg, have let my trainers gather dust and feel like a sack of potatoes. Let’s face it; the extra weight isn’t going to help my dodgy heel. I haven’t been taking care of my health and I’ve used my heel injury as an excuse to eat rubbish. Not the ideal starting point.

Week one of the training plan is described as ‘getting started’ or in my case ‘seeing if my heel can cope with a 20 minute run’. Without sounding like a Negative Nora, I had quite a few doubts. Enough waffle, here are my thoughts on the first week of half marathon training.

Monday – 10 mins easy jog

The training plan started with a nice and easy “10 mins easy jog”, I dragged myself out of bed, squeezed myself into some running gear, and started to work my way through my PF exercises and stretches. I’ve accepted that most of the initial training runs will take less time than my pre- and post-run exercises and stretches. Once I was happy with my heel, I went to the loo, pulled on my trainers and headed out the door. I managed to run 0.97 miles in 10 minutes, perhaps a little speedy for an “easy jog” but a positive start.

Collage 2

Mum picked me up at 10:00 and we drove the short distance to Chase Farm Shop. Whereas in the past I would have chosen the Traditional Farmers breakfast, on Monday I chose the slightly less calorific Lighter Breakfast. I still felt full four hours later so decided to skip lunch. The rest of Monday was spent preparing for my interview, completing a feature for runABC Midlands, and building up the courage to take the sample of blood I needed to provide for the Thriva team.

Tuesday – Rest

Tuesday wasn’t very exciting. I spent the morning reading through my PhD thesis in preparation for my interview. The highlight of Tuesday afternoon was receiving my Thriva results; my Lipid Profile and Liver Function checks came back fine. Although I’ll go into more detail in a separate review post, I was relieved my dubious eating habits hadn’t given me high cholesterol.

Wednesday – 10 mins easy jog

As I didn’t want to risk inadvertently injuring myself on the morning of my interview, I decided to complete the “10 mins easy jog” scheduled for Thursday a day earlier. After spending a couple of hours working on some more last minute interview preparation, I worked my way through my PF exercises and stretches. Running is a strange old sport. Monday’s “easy jog” felt quite difficult as I set out far too fast (for me!) and paid the price. This time I set out at a more realistic pace, and found the 0.96 miles I covered in 10 minutes far more enjoyable. I spent the remainder of Wednesday reading through the job description and my application form and trying to work out potential interview questions. After checking the trains, I also spent far too long worrying about having to catch four different trains to get to my interview.

Thursday – Rest

I didn’t get a great night’s sleep because I was so worried about the journey to my interview and the actual interview itself. I initially woke up at 06:00, realised I didn’t need to get up for another hour, went back to sleep and then woke up at 07:00 feeling like a zombie. My journey from Four Oaks to Chelmsford involved travelling on four different trains and some of my connections were tight. Fortunately, I enjoyed four relatively stress and delay-free train journeys, and I arrived at my interview 20 minutes early. The interview itself went very well. I answered all of the questions and completed all of the practical tests. The 1.5 hours flew by and I left the interview feeling positive.

Collage 3

The journey back to London was uneventful. The tube journey to Baker Street was a nightmare. I’ve never travelled on such a busy tube train and I started to feel quite panicky. I escaped at Baker Street, and was met by hundreds of people heading to the Adele concert. Great timing Emma! I walked the short distance to my friends flat, let myself in, dumped my bags, had a quick shower, got changed and then met up with my PhD supervisor to chat about my interview. My supervisor abandoned me after a couple of pints so I sat drinking alone waiting for my friend Kate. Seriously, how late do some people work in London!? By the time Kate arrived we were both starving so we headed straight to Hardy’s where I opted for fish and chips and a slightly unusual but unhealthy meringue-based dessert.

Friday – Rest

Friday was uneventful. I travelled back from London and managed to avoid the chaos on the local trains. I got home and started to work my way through the mountain of washing. I was just about to head out to grab some lunch when my phone went; it was the person who interviewed me. Unfortunately, although I was a “very strong candidate” I didn’t get the job because I didn’t have enough modelling experience. Disappointing but predictable! I tried not to think about the £100 I’d spent getting to and from the interview. My mother managed to make me feel a million times worse by telling me that she felt sorry for me. Thanks mother!

Saturday – Jog/walk 20 mins

After switching around my training runs earlier in the week, I decided to attempt my ‘longer run’ a day early. After working my way through my PF exercises and stretches, I headed out first thing in the morning with the aim of running for 20 minutes without stopping. Although – I’m so unfit at the moment – I found running for 20 minutes quite difficult. I managed to avoid walking and found the 1.89 miles challenging but enjoyable. I got home, spent ages icing my right foot and heel, had a quick shower and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. For some reason I felt shattered. In the evening I headed out for a short walk, half-way through my walk I bumped into some old school friends. Three hours, four pints, one race entry later – I was determined to get a place in the Market Drayton 10k – I made it to bed. Unplanned nights are always great; I needed a good laugh after my most recent job rejection.

Sunday – Rest

Sunday was a much needed day of rest. I woke up feeling dehydrated and had a slightly fuzzy head. I also had a very sore left foot, I have a horrible feeling that I’m heading towards another stress fracture. I spent the morning and early afternoon attached to the sofa watching England beat Sri Lanka in the Women’s Cricket World Cup, and the evening catching up on some well overdue household chores. Not the most productive Sunday!

So that’s the first week of my half marathon training plan successfully completed. Apologies for the lengthy post, I can guarantee next week’s will be a lot shorter. I’ve looked at the training schedule for next week and it looks pretty similar. Fingers crossed the pain in my left foot isn’t anything serious. I’ve started to enjoy running again and I don’t want another injury!

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Distance: 3.82 miles


  • Right heel: 2/10
  • Right knee: 1/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Have you ever entered a race when you are drunk? I’m just relieved I entered a 10k and not something completely unachievable like an Ironman!

Have you ever sold your unwanted clothes/running gear on eBay? I think I’m getting slightly addicted to decluttering.