The recent wake-up call I so desperately needed

I hope that everyone had an amazing Bank Holiday weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were volunteering at my local parkrun – I also had a go at writing the event report – completing a pain-free run, clearing out a load of junk, and catching up with some family friends. Thanks to a few manic weeks at work and the fact I’ve been feeling a bit gloomy, I haven’t blogged much recently.

Anyway, back to the point of this blog. Earlier this month, I had a major wake-up call at the doctors. One of those “I’m 40 now, I need to start taking care of myself” kind of reality checks. Six months of eating far too much processed food and checking out virtually every pub in Wallingford has taken its toll. If you have issues with food, BMI etc I’d recommend not reading any further.Too much food and drinkWhen I discovered that my blood pressure was substantially higher than it should be during my routine pill check-up, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve always experienced white coat hypertension, however, this time, the high blood pressure readings have continued at home.

I have high blood pressure, in less than 12 months I’ve gone from healthy to high blood pressure; it’s time for me to make some significant lifestyle changes. So the healthier regime has started. I’ve allowed myself a couple of months of excess, now it’s time to get sorted.

I mean the camera doesn’t lie; the photos taken on my 40th birthday and during two recent parkruns should have spurred me into action.

It’s not just the terrible photos. I’ve been experiencing joint pain and feeling lethargic, bits of me wobble when I’m on public transport, I’ve had to buy new trousers as my Size 12 work trousers felt like they were going to burst and, finally, most of my online banking seems to be pub and food related. The list goes on. For someone with half a brain, I’ve been pretty stupid.

And then I weighed myself and checked out my BMI. It was 25.2; for the first time in my life I’m classed as being overweight. Another much-needed wake-up call.BMII understand the limitations of the BMI, however, in my case, I don’t think I can blame my reading on muscle weighing more than fat! It’s not all doom and gloom as I only need to lose 5% of my current weight. Fingers crossed I’ll start to lose weight once I start running three times a week

I just hope that my replacement bathroom scales – I was a little concerned about the accuracy of my cheapo scales – don’t add on a few extra pounds. I would have a go on the scales at Boots in Wallingford, but I’m not sure how to take clothing into account.

In an attempt to lose weight and to reduce my blood pressure, I’ve come up with some fairly basic but hopefully effective healthier eating and drinking ‘rules’:

  1. Don’t skip breakfast – at the moment I rarely eat breakfast and end up snacking before lunch
  2. Eat more fruit and vegetables – at the moment I’m nowhere near 5 portions a day
  3. Actually open some of the selection of healthy eating books I’ve purchased over the years
  4. Cook more meals from scratch – at the moment I’m eating a lot of processed food
  5. Only one takeaway meal a week – I need the occasional treat
  6. Cut down on sugar – do I really need sugar in my tea? Probably not!
  7. Drink more water – ideally 6-8 cups a day – and not more Diet Coke
  8. Don’t stop off at the pub after work every evening
  9. Don’t sneak into McD’s when waiting for the train
  10. Finally, stay away from the confectionary aisle in Sainsbury’s

Can you think of anything obvious I’ve missed? I’ll be sure to write some sort of progress report in a couple of week’s time.

So apologies for the somewhat dull blog, however, I think it’s important for me to share the highs and the lows of my life. I’m now going to spend some time planning my meals for when I’m back in Four Oaks. I may also get around to reviewing some of the products I’ve been sent, a couple will help with some of the ‘rules’ I listed earlier in this post.

Can you recommend any cookery books for people who are useless at cooking? I once made vegetable soup that tasted so rank, my pet labrador dog wouldn’t touch it. I mean dogs are meant to eat anything.

Can you think of anything I’ve missed off my healthier eating and drinking rules? I’m sure there’s something really obvious, I can’t think what it is!

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London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 9

I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were submitting a couple of job applications and completing a long run yesterday morning.Collage 23Week nine of my London Landmarks Half training plan recommended that I completed a steady 40 minute run on Monday, a steady 45-50 minute run on Wednesday, a 20 minute easy jog on Saturday, and a two hour long run at an easy pace on Sunday. After missing a few too many training runs, I was determined to complete my longer training run on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the ninth week of half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid the pubs in Wallingford? Did I manage to run after work? Did I rediscover my running mojo? Most importantly, did my slightly niggly right knee cope with four training runs?

Monday – 40 mins steady Rest

Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me, why I lack motivation. I booked Monday off so I could finish working through the comments some reviewers made on an academic manuscript I submitted ages ago. I think I did everything but spend time on my manuscript, it’s like I enjoy putting pressure on myself and causing myself more stress. I’ve always been the same. At university, I completed my dissertation three hours before it was due to be submitted. I didn’t even leave myself enough time to read through my masterpiece.

The weather was perfect, I could have run in the middle of the day and soaked up some Vitamin D, but I barely left the house. My procrastination levels were epic; I listed and sold more unwanted running gear on Farcebook, made a start on a job application and cleaned my fridge. What a waste of a day of leave.

Tuesday – Rest 40 mins steady

Once again, the weather was amazing, it definitely felt more like early summer than the end of winter. Such a contrast to the snow at the beginning of the month. After failing to leave the house the previous day, I played dodge the pushchairs, and got to the Post Office for when it opened. Following a couple of productive hours of hydrology work, mum collected me and we headed to the local farm shop for a late breakfast. I managed to polish off my Farmer’s breakfast in world record time, I’m not sure if my mum was shocked or impressed.Collage 22Eating a large breakfast left me with a bit of a running dilemma. I had to decide whether to run before heading back to Wallingford or when I got back to Wallingford. I decided to risk running less than two hours after eating a cooked breakfast.

Thanks to the cooked breakfast and the warm weather, the run felt far, far more difficult than it should have done nine weeks into half marathon training. I headed towards my usual ‘Figure of 8’ route in one of the flattest areas of Four Oaks. I thought it would be reasonably quiet, I was a little frustrated when I discovered I was sharing the pavements with dozens of school children completing some sort of cycle safety training. After nearly getting run over by children on bikes three times, I decided to run somewhere a little safer. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to reach the end of a training run; my beetroot impression lasted until I travelled back down to Wallingford.

Wednesday – 45-50 mins steady Rest

The day got off to a positive start when I remembered I had a meeting in Reading, I have been known to head to the wrong office. The highlight of the day was seeing a colleague for the first time in 15 years; some people never seem to age. The meeting itself was incredibly productive and the six hours flew by. I escaped from Reading with a colleague and got back to Wallingford after a slightly stressful bus journey. We decided to pop into The Old Post Office pub for a quick drink. Several hours, not enough food and a fascinating conversation with a retired international athlete later, I virtually fell into bed.

Thursday – Rest 45-50 mins steady

I’m definitely giving up alcohol for Lent! I may also attempt to put an end to my slightly excessive Diet Coke consumption. I’ll be 40 in May; I need to make more effort to look after myself. Although the office was busy, I had a reasonably productive day. I escaped the office a little later than originally planned, picked up some food in Waitrose, got back to my room and had a much-needed power nap.

Thankfully, my 50 minute steady run felt a million times easier than Tuesdays run. I have a feeling I’ve turned myself into some sort of early morning/evening runner who doesn’t run very well when it’s light or above 5°c, not ideal! I got back to my lodgings, packed my bags, managed not to break the slightly scary power shower and headed to bed at a sensible time.

Friday – Rest

Most people who read my waffle know that thanks to the wonders of flexitime, I escape from the office at 15:00 on Fridays. For once the bus and trains behaved themselves, and I had a stress-free journey back to Four Oaks. I briefly considered completing a 20 minute jog but decided to give my slightly niggly right knee a rest. My Friday evening was dull but productive. As soon as I got home I went into get shit done mode, and managed to cross off most of my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I also made sure that I remembered to watch some of the European Indoor Athletics. I just love watching KJT and Laura Muir compete.

Saturday – 20 mins easy jog

I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I woke up at 05:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to get my 20 minute run done and dusted so that I didn’t have time to change my mind, I was also aware that running first thing in the morning would give me more time to recover before my long run. The run was definitely too fast for a jog but still felt relatively easy. I wore my new Brooks for the first time and didn’t think they felt as comfortable as I’d hoped.Sutton ParkFollowing a quick trip to Sutton Coldfield – Sutton Park looked beautiful – the rest of the day was so mundane; I won’t bore you to tears with the details. I made sure that I didn’t waste too much time obsessing over the weather, ate a high-carb meal, watched more athletics, set my alarm for 05:00 and headed to bed at a sensible (for me) time.

Sunday – 120 mins easy

I found it really hard to get to sleep, and ended up getting the not so impressive total of four hours sleep. I almost felt jet-lagged when my alarm woke me at 05:00. Thanks to a combination of the weather and my lack of fitness, my long run yesterday felt challenging. My calf muscles felt quite tight to start with and seemed to take a long time to warm up. I felt tired and rather surprisingly given what I’d eaten the evening before, under-fuelled. I allowed myself a walking break after 60 minutes and then struggled to get going again. I’d overestimated how far I’d run in two hours, and found myself ‘waddling’ down a main road in the rain at 07:15.3 weeks to goSo that’s the ninth week of my London Landmarks Half training more or less completed. I can’t believe there are only three more weeks to go, I don’t feel at all prepared.

The tenth week of my half marathon training plan is described as the ‘peak week’ and appears to be the most important week of training. I’m aiming to complete a 30 minute run later today, an hour long easy run after work on Thursday, parkrun or an equivalent run on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute long easy run on Sunday. I was originally going to complete the Big Half in London on Sunday but have decided not to travel down to London.

Training totals

  • Runs: 19
  • Time: 15 hours 12 mins
  • Distance: 84.13 miles

 Niggleometer

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

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine last week? I definitely picked the right time to take leave, it’s just a shame I didn’t make the most of the good weather.

Do you tell people when and where you are going running? Something happened during my long run yesterday that got me thinking. I don’t tell people I’m heading out running; perhaps I should start taking my mobile ‘phone with me!

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 8

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’ve taken today and tomorrow as annual leave as I need to finish a slightly overdue academic paper.Collage 20Week eight of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 45 minute run on Wednesday, a 5km time trial on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. With only four weeks until race day, I wanted to have a solid week of training.

So how did I cope during the eighth week of my half marathon training? Did my knee niggle turn into an injury? Did I allow ‘real life’ to get in the way of my training? Did my running mojo return?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

I found myself in the office for the first time in what felt like ages. It’s probably a good job I wasn’t on leave or working from home because the whole building was incredibly quiet due to the combination of half term and training courses. The peace and quiet meant that I managed to complete a couple of technically challenging pieces of work I’d been putting off.

The plan had been for me to help a colleague fix her shed roof after work. Unfortunately, or should that be fortunately, it rained quite a lot during the afternoon which meant it was too wet to do anything outside. We both headed into town after work to buy some housewarming presents. We had some nibbles and then popped into the Old Post Office for a couple of drinks. I felt like I could have run afterwards, but I didn’t want to risk running for half an hour after drinking two pints of quite gassy lager.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

The walk into the office seemed to take twice as long as normal, possibly because I kept stopping to take random photos. The weather was gorgeous; quite chilly to start with but sunny, it definitely felt like spring had made an appearance.

Wallingford TuesdayWork was a little challenging at times but the day seemed to fly by. One minute I was logging into my computer, the next it felt like it was time to head home again. Most definitely my kind of day! I got back to my lodgings and spent an hour chilling out while catching up on Casualty. Thanks to an accidental(?) nap, I almost left it a little too late to run. I’d like to say that I found the half-hour run easy, however, thanks to my inability to pace myself sensibly, I found the final 15 minutes of the run quite tricky.

Wednesday – 45 mins steady Rest

Looking back, I can’t actually remember what happened at work on Wednesday, clearly nothing very out of the ordinary or worth writing about. I left the office at a sensible time with a colleague and we popped into The Old Post Office for a quick drink. We somehow found ourselves back in the Delhi Brasserie restaurant enjoying a curry and another pint. I felt so full after my meal there was no way I could have run, even walking back to my lodgings was challenging.

Thursday – Rest

I worked in Reading in the morning because I needed to travel into London at lunchtime. I’d booked the afternoon off as flexi as I’d been invited to the unveiling of Geoff’s portrait at my old university. Definitely one event I didn’t want to be late for. I left Reading at lunchtime and reached Paddington 30 minutes later, so much faster than travelling from Brum! I decided to walk from Paddington to Baker Street. London felt incredibly busy, I guess spending a year in Wallingford means I’m not used to crowds! I reached Baker Street, collected a chess book for a friend, and then headed to The Barley Mow. Thanks to a drunk bloke who didn’t seem to understand the word ‘no’ I didn’t have the relaxing pint I’d planned.Collage 21I quite literally escaped from the pub and went for a quick wander around Marylebone. I found walking past some of my old haunts quite upsetting; virtually every pub and restaurant I used to visit with Geoff had either closed or completely changed. I got to the university and met up with a couple of my old hydrology lecturers. I didn’t know what to expect, but the portrait unveiling was quite informal with a couple of speeches. I chatted to the few people I knew, enjoyed a couple of glasses of university red wine and then headed to Paddington. I got back to Wallingford at 21:00 and somehow found myself in the Boat House pub enjoying a relaxing pint. Cheers Geoff.

Friday – Rest 45 mins steady

After a slightly unsettled night, I felt more than a bit peaky when I woke up. Fortunately, I felt a lot better after the 40 minute walk into the office. I’ve decided that I’m going to give up alcohol for Lent. My liver and bank account will both definitely appreciate a bit of a break. Following a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later.

Usually, I get home, order a Chinese and eat it while I watch Chicago Fire. On Friday I got home and immediately changed into some running gear. I knew that if I sat down, I wouldn’t have the willpower to head out and run. Running back in Four Oaks felt great, nothing beats running along well lit pavements. I experienced a bit of what I call ‘half term heckling’ but nothing too serious. The 45 minute run felt reasonably easy, and before I knew it, I was I tucking into an enjoyable Chinese.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

How amazing was the weather on Saturday? Once the fog finally cleared, it felt like early summer rather than late February, slightly worrying if you ask me. I didn’t make it to Sutton Park parkrun, I did, however, have an incredibly productive day at home. I listed and sold a load more unwanted running gear on various Facebook selling groups. If I’m not careful, I won’t have anything left to wear this summer. At least I found my hydration vest while I was in the attic. I spent three hours gardening and definitely overdid it a little as my right wrist started to hurt again. I’m not sure of the events of the week suddenly caught up with me, but I went to bed for an afternoon nap, and woke up three hours later still feeling quite groggy.

Sunday – 110 mins jog 70 mins jog

As I wanted to avoid the random February ‘heat wave’ I set my alarm for the slightly unsociable time of 05:30. When I looked outside and saw how foggy it was, I almost headed straight back to bed. I gave myself a major talking to, got changed into some running gear, managed a productive loo visit, drank a pint of water and headed out the door.

It was freezing and incredibly foggy; perhaps not the best of conditions for an asthmatic runner with dodgy eyesight. I actually ran into a wheelie bin that had been left in the middle of the pavement, not my finest moment. I made sure that I ran at what felt like an unnaturally slow pace, this seemed to work quite well as I reached 50 minutes of running feeling great. In typical stupid Emma style, I inadvertently increased my pace and started to struggle. One minute I felt great, the next minute I felt terrible. I made it to 70 minutes and am a little ashamed to admit that I decided to call it a day.

So much for nailing one of my longer runs. To make matters worse, I received an email from the race organisers reminding me there was one month to go. Arraagghhhh!One month to goSo that’s week eight of my half marathon training not very successfully completed. I think I possibly let real life and the pub get in the way of my training. At the moment, I can’t imagine completing a half marathon in less than four weeks time.

Week nine of my half marathon training plan looks achievable, I just need to make sure that I prioritise running over drinking. I’ve got to complete a steady 40 minute run today, a 45-50 minute steady run on Wednesday, an easy 20 minute jog on Saturday – I must remember to check the parkrun roster – and a longer two hour run on Sunday. I’ve no idea if my right knee will allow me to run for a couple of hours. I need a decent longer run to give me a bit of confidence.

Training totals

  • Runs: 15
  • Time: 11 hours 22 mins
  • Distance: 63.89 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right wrist: 4/10

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine during the weekend? It feels a little strange to be wearing sun cream in February.

Have you ever run into something while you are running? I’m pleased it was so early no one saw me run straight into a wheelie bin.

Rants and raves #33 and a giveaway

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending an expensive and not very enjoyable hour at the dentist. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. As a result, this blog may well be slightly more moany than usual. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: My new lodgings

I’ve escaped from the shared ‘House of Doom’. I’m now living with a lovely lady and her elderly dog. I feel safe when I go to sleep, and don’t get woken up at 4am and 5am by people turning on the extractor fan in the kitchen. I’ve been getting 8 hours sleep a night and have been waking up feeling refreshed.

My temporary contract was extended last week; I’m now looking forward to living and working in Wallingford until at least the end of June.

Rant: SpareRoom

Last month, I escaped from the shared house I’d been living in endured for 12 months. The final straw was returning after Christmas, and discovering the one housemate I actually had something in common with and spoke to had moved to Reading. To make matters worse, two people had moved into the room next to me and they were noisy. Like really noisy; I could hear every word they were saying at 2am in the morning. It got so bad; it was a case of find somewhere better or hand in my notice at work.SpareRoom

Even this shared house sounded better!

I was a little surprised to see the house advertised on SpareRoom as having a lounge, an immaculate garden, friendly professional and quiet housemates, parking and a spotlessly clean kitchen. The house had no lounge – the lounge has been converted to a bedroom, the garden is a jungle, most of the housemates were anything but friendly, there is no parking and the kitchen is so dirty, I never risked preparing food in there. All the photos looked really old; possibly from when the house was last sold, the photo of the room wasn’t even of my old room.

The blatant lie that made me report the listing to SpareRoom was the description of the ‘current housemates’. The advert stated 3 Males, 3 Females whereas the reality is 7 males. Incredibly misleading. I reported the listing to SpareRoom and from what I can tell they did bugger all. The completely misleading listing was live for a couple of weeks and has now disappeared. I just hope the new housemate has some good earplugs.

Rave: Famous failures

Sometimes I need to remind myself that it is acceptable to make mistakes and to fail! 

Thanks Jeff!

Rant: The lurgy

I’m still not feeling completely recovered after my recent cough and cold. I’m finding running more of a struggle than it should be, and feel like I’ve lost a lot of my fitness and running stamina. I spend a lot of time on trains and buses surrounded by people coughing and sneezing. A lot of people make zero effort to cover their mouth when they cough and sneeze, it’s disgusting.  I’m getting slightly paranoid I’m going to get ill again between now and the London Landmarks Half at the end of March.

Does anyone know where I can buy my own breathing apparatus set?

Rave: Bargainous 2XU reflective leggings

I recently popped into my local TK Maxx on the final day of the ‘yellow sticker’ sale. Predictably, the vast majority of the items left in the sale were either broken, not in my size or unidentifiable. I did, however, spot a pair of these 2XU reflective leggings in my size.2XU leggingsThey set me back the grand total of £2.50, definitely a bargain. I also bought another couple of pairs of leggings in a smaller size, hopefully a bit of an incentive for me to lose a bit of weight before I’m 40.

Rant: eBay again

After last year’s automatic relisting saga, I decided to give eBay another chance. I’m aiming to sell my unwanted running gear to raise money for race entries.

I listed a couple of pairs of running shorts and made sure that the ‘automatically relist’ option wasn’t selected. I was so paranoid I double-checked both listings. My listings ended on Friday, one was automatically relisted and the other wasn’t. I only knew one had been relisted when someone sent me a stupidly low offer. I declined the offer and deleted the listing and a couple of other listings I had scheduled.eBay woes

[Source]

Unless eBay stop trying to automate everything, I’m going to stick to buying and not selling. There are cheaper alternatives including Facebook selling pages.

Rave: Facebook selling pages

I listed the running shorts that failed to sell on eBay on a Facebook selling page and both pairs sold pretty much instantly. I got what I wanted and saved money as I didn’t have to pay eBay and PayPal fees. Definitely what I call a win-win situation. I just need to make sure I don’t spend all the money I make buying running gear I don’t need.

Rant: The Running Bug

Did I completely miss an email or something similar warning me that The Running Bug site was closing its doors? I only became aware it had closed when I did a broken link check.The Running BugThe site had an amazing online community and contained a lot of incredibly useful running related articles. It seems a shame for everything to disappear without warning.

Rave: Reflective hairband and a giveaway

And finally, what I hope is a bonus rave. The first and quite possibly last giveaway I’ll ever attempt to organise through this blog.

Last month, Kimberley contacted me and asked if she could send me a reflective headband to wear and review during my night-time training runs. I said yes and received four of these amazing headbands Kimberley has created in the post. I’ll be hopefully writing a review soon.Reflective headbandTo be in with a chance, please leave a comment below saying why a reflective headband would be useful to you. I’ll pick a winner at random and announce the winner on Sunday February 17th. Fingers crossed I get at least a couple of entries. Good luck!

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

Have you got any shared house horror stories you’d like to share with me?  

Did you use The Running Bug site? If you did, were you aware it was closing down?  

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 2

I hope that everyone had a great weekend. Thanks to the lurgy, my weekend wasn’t the best; I didn’t even leave the house. I’m still feeling terrible this morning; fortunately I’d already booked the day off as flexi.  collage 5Week two of my half marathon training plan – getting started – recommended that I completed an easy half hour run on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday and finally, a steady 60 minute run on Sunday, After struggling to complete my first long run due a complete loss of fitness, I was a little concerned about the second week of training.

So how did I get on during the second week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to complete all my training runs? Did I manage to run at all?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

It felt quite good to be back in the office. I think I’m the type of person who needs routine. I spent the morning working my way through 300+ emails and completing a spot of time recording. Lunchtime involved some last-minute presentation preparation as I’d agreed to fill in for a colleague who was off work. Midway through the afternoon, I noticed that my throat felt a little ‘odd’ and my head felt more fuzzy than usual. By the time I got back to my shared house I’d accepted that running was completely out of the question. My head was pounding, and I felt terrible. The noise my housemates were making did nothing to improve my mood. It got so bad – think living with a couple of elephants – I sent off a couple of enquiries about alternative rooms. At least the Wolves v Liverpool match cheered me up a little.

Tuesday – 50 mins steady Rest

I woke up feeling terrible and weighed up the pros and cons of travelling to Reading to help deliver a training session. I decided I couldn’t let my colleague down and headed into Reading. Spending two hours in a hot and crowded room was a struggle, and I spent most of the time trying not to cough, but I think our presentation went well. After a far too quick drink (of coke) with a colleague I hadn’t seen in almost ten years, I found myself running to catch the bus back to Wallingford. After running for the bus left me coughing and struggling to breathe I realised that running when I got back to Wallingford was completely out of the question. What a rubbish start to the second week of my training. I guess being ill is better than being injured.

Wednesday – Rest

The thirty minute or so walk into the office was a tad on the chilly side, and I regretted leaving my hat and gloves at home in Four Oaks. A slight adulating fail as people warned me that Wallingford was cold when I moved here last year. Benson – across the road from my office – seems to feature on BBC Weather’s tweets on a regular basis.

While I didn’t feel or sound unwell, I had an irritating tickly throat and nose thing going on all day. I spent most of the day trying not to cough as I could tell I was annoying my colleagues. I also wanted to give my throat chance to recover. After a pretty shitty day, something incredibly positive happened in the evening. I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

Thursday – 45 mins steady Rest

After spending most of the night and early morning trying and failing not to cough too much, I actually felt slightly better when one of my housemates woke me up at 05:30. Not well enough to run but well enough to go into work. Although I felt ok, I sounded terrible and spent most of the day either coughing or trying to avoid coughing. Fortunately, the office was reasonably quiet otherwise I would have irritated a lot of people.collage 6I left work early and headed back to my shared house with the intention of having a nap. Not a chance! I know I sound like a broken record, but the people I live with aren’t exactly quiet. At one point the noise got so bad I headed to the Boat House pub as I needed some peace and quiet. I’m not convinced drinking a pint of ice cold coke helped my throat, but the peace and quiet helped my head.

Friday – Rest

I spent the grand total 35 minutes in the office before I admitted defeat and told my line manager I wasn’t feeling well enough to be at work. I couldn’t stop coughing and felt terrible. The journey back home was a bit of a struggle; at least I wasn’t the only person on the train coughing. I got home, stuck a load of washing in the machine and then headed to bed. That was about as productive as the day got. In an attempt to make myself feel better, I ordered a takeaway from my favourite Chinese, and struggled to eat more than a couple of mouthfuls. The rest of Friday was incredibly mundane!

Saturday – Rest

Saturday was a complete write-off, such a waste of a day. I did, however, learn a valuable lesson; don’t drink a bottle of milkshake when you have a bad and slightly unpredictable cough. My post-milkshake coughing fit almost got very messy.

Sunday – 60 mins steady Rest

After a slightly disturbed night and early morning, I didn’t feel well enough to get out of bed until lunchtime. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I hate feeling unwell. I had zero appetite and no energy. I did do a spot of research into the pros and cons of running with a cold – yes I am stupid – but decided staying in bed was the safer option.cold running

[Source]

So that’s week two of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training not at all completed. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a whole week of training in the past, but I’m not going to worry about the missed runs. I’ve got no idea how some runners seem to run with coughs and colds, I struggled to walk into the office.

Week three of my London Landmarks half marathon training plan will hopefully see me complete at least one run! I’m meant to be completing a 30 minute easy run today, a steady 50 minute run on Thursday, a 20-35 minute speed session on Friday, and a longer 70-75 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hour 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right foot: 2/10 (my right foot has been a little niggly, I’ve no idea why!)

Did you have a good weekend? I hope that everyone who reads this actually made it outside!

Do you have any tips for getting rid of irritating, tickly coughs? I’ve tried honey and lemon, gargling with salt water, three types of cough medicine and a lot of cough/throat sweets.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 1

I hope that you all had a great weekend. When this blog is published, I’ll be back in the office for the first time since December 21st. As quite a few people seem to enjoy reading my weekly training updates, I’ve decided to share my training progress in the lead up to the London Landmarks Half Marathon. I suspect the next three months will be quite challenging as my temporary contract comes to an end the week after the half marathon.collage 1Week one of my 12-week half marathon training plan – getting started – recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Tuesday, an easy 30 minute run on Thursday, a brisk 25 minute run on Friday and a steady hour long run on Sunday. After eating (and drinking) far, far too much over the festive period, I was slightly concerned I wouldn’t be able to complete five training runs!

So how did I find the first week of my half marathon training? Did I avoid getting injured? Did I manage to complete all five training runs?

Monday – 30 mins steady

My alarm went off at 07:00 and after spending a couple of minutes debating getting out of bed, I decided to treat myself to a bit of a lie in. I eventually dragged myself out of bed and headed out on my 30 minute run just after 09:00. The run wasn’t great as I felt unfit and quite sluggish; the final five minutes were a bit of a struggle. I blamed the fact I’d spent the last ten days eating and drinking far, far too much. I need my fitness to improve ASAP.

Once I’d recovered, I had a reasonably productive day. I caught up on some slightly overdue blog related admin and tidied the house. I spent a couple of hours drafting out a job application and had an enjoyable afternoon nap. I treated myself to one last Chinese takeaway and spent New Year’s Eve doing very little. I went to bed well before midnight and then struggled to sleep. I estimate that I probably slept for less than three hours.

Tuesday – Rest

Happy New Year! I should have completed a steady 50 minute run, but after getting very limited sleep, I decided to swap some of my training sessions around. I didn’t have a hangover, I just felt so tired I knew running would have been a struggle. I spent the morning doing very little. In the afternoon, I decided I needed some fresh air so I walked through Sutton Park into Sutton Coldfield.collage 2I popped into TK Maxx and bought a diary, Moleskine notebook and sports bra. I love shopping for random bits and pieces. I’m a little ashamed to admit that when I escaped TK Maxx, I popped into Mc Donald’s. While I was eating my healthy snack I shared an idea that had been floating around in my head all day:

I switched off twitter and walked the three miles back home. When I checked twitter, I discovered that my idea had been liked and retweeted by a lot of people. Most people seemed to love my idea. I just need to remember to stick £1 in my ‘running fund’ every time I run!

Wednesday – 50 mins steady Rest

Switching my training sessions around didn’t work out very well because thanks to yet another headache, I felt far too unwell to run on Wednesday. I popped into Mere Green to buy a money tin from the pound shop and paid some Christmas cheques into my bank. I spent the remainder of the day lying in bed trying to get rid of my migraine. Such a waste of a day of annual leave.

Thursday – 30 mins easy Rest

I woke up feeling a million times better; a good thing as I’d arranged to meet dad and his wife for lunch. Having to turn down lunch due to a migraine would have been pretty devastating. I spent the morning working on a job application and then headed across to Lichfield Trent Valley to meet dad. After a quick cup of tea, dad drove us the short distance to The Royal Oak in Kings Bromley.collage 3The food was amazing and I ate so much, the short journey back was a little uncomfortable. I briefly considered running when I got back to Four Oaks three hours later, but I felt far, far too full to even contemplate pulling on my trainers. A poor excuse I know!

Friday – 25 mins brisk

After ranting about my Garmin 235 in my latest set of rants and raves, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I discovered that both of my Garmin watches had gone completely flat. Talk about poor planning. I had a couple of options; to run ‘naked’ or to charge my Garmin and run later. As I didn’t want to delay my run – there’s always a danger I won’t run at all if I do this – I decided to opt for the naked option. Although it was so cold I found it quite hard to breathe, I really, really enjoyed my run. When I got back, I stuck a pound coin in my ‘running fund’ pot, hopefully the first of many pound coins.

Saturday – Rest

I felt a little gloomy on Saturday as I realised that it was my last full day at home in Four Oaks. The thought of returning to a shared house didn’t do much to cheer me up. Silly of me when I know I’ll miss Wallingford when my temporary contract ends in March. My morning improved when mum collected me and drove us to Chase Farm Shop. A sensible person would have ordered a small breakfast; I managed to order and work my way through a huge Farmers breakfast. The healthy eating starts next week.

The journey back was a little stressful as mums car started to sound like a tractor and then lost power. Luckily, we just about made it back home. After a slightly mundane afternoon of washing, ironing and housework, I spent the evening chilling out in front of the TV catching up on my guilty TV habit; Holby City. I also remembered to enter the Birmingham 10k Winter Warmer Run which takes place in Sutton Park next month. I’m hoping that I’ll feel slightly less wobbly after some consistent running.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace

The weather yesterday morning was perfect for running; not too cold, sunny, dry and not too windy. I found my mile warm-up jog to meet up with Ellen a little harder than I would have liked. I think it’s going to take time to get my fitness levels back to where they were in October.

Ellen was aiming to complete a six mile run as part of her half marathon training, so we decided to aim for 60 minutes as a starting point. We walked the short distance into Sutton Park, had a quick discussion about where we wanted to run and then headed towards the Jamboree Stone. We reached the Jamboree Stone and stopped for a bit of a breather. Ellen suggested we ran the majority of the parkrun route, starting with the slightly soul destroying out and back section to and from the Jamboree Stone.Just running up one short hill left me feeling like I needed a long sit down.collage 4Luckily, the next section towards the finish of parkrun was down hill, there is no way I could have carried on running in an uphill direction! We reached the finish of parkrun, paused our Garmins and walked the short distance to where parkrun starts. Once we were back on track so to speak, we started to run again and continued to run until we reached the bottom of the ‘Hill of Doom’. I’m a little ashamed to admit that I had to power walk up the hill as my legs felt like jelly. We reached the end of the parkrun route, worked out how much longer we needed to run for and headed back towards where we started.

Ten minutes later, I was able to stop running as I’d been running for an hour. I wouldn’t call the run ‘comfortable’ but it was enjoyable and that’s what matters. The rest of the day felt a little rushed as I had to travel back down to Wallingford. I guess all good things (holidays) have to come to an end.

So that’s week one of my half marathon training plan not really completed. Like last time, I know that I’m going to have to adapt the training plan to suit my needs and somewhat fragile body. I just hope that I start to feel a little fitter ASAP! Only another 11 weeks to go.

Week two of the training plan contains four training runs and three rest and recovery days. I’ve got to complete an easy half hour run after work, a 50 minute steady run tomorrow, a 45 minute steady run on Thursday and an hour long run on Sunday. I’m hoping to make it to Sutton Park on Sunday. At the moment, just thinking about running after work is making me feel quite tired. After two weeks doing very little at home, I need to get back into some sort of routine again.

Training totals

  • Runs: 3
  • Time: 1 hour 55 mins
  • Distance: 10.83 miles

 Niggleometer

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

Did you have a good New Year’s Eve? I used to love New Year’s Eve when I worked at a pub. Since then, I’ve not really seen much point in getting plastered and then waking up feeling terrible.

Do you think rewarding running is a good idea? When I shared my slightly daft idea on twitter, I didn’t expect my tweet to be quite so popular.

A slightly random one, do you find it hard going back to work after a break? I don’t think I’ve ever felt this anxious about going back to work before.  

My running goals for 2019

Happy New Year! I hope that you all had an awesome Christmas and New Year. Here’s to a healthy, happy and injury free 2019. I can’t believe I’ll reach the grand old age of 40 at the start of May.

As always, I’m acutely aware that people are getting a little fed up with all of the New Year’s resolutions and goals type blogs. I really hope that my slightly unusual mix of running goals doesn’t bore you all to tears.training-journalsLike last year and the year before, I’ve decided to set myself some challenging but hopefully achievable running goals. After – with a few notable exceptions – I failed to achieve most of last year’s goals, I wasn’t originally going to share my 2019 goals. However, I hope that by sharing these goals I make myself slightly more accountable. A runner can always dream.

Run 1000 km – I set myself the same goal last year and ended up running approximately 735 km. I’ve entered the 1000 km in 2019 challenge on Virtual Runner and have set my distance target on Fetcheveryone so that I can monitor my progress throughout the year.

Complete 10 races – I set myself the same goal last year and ended up completing eight races and an unofficial virtual half marathon, a huge improvement on 2016 and 2017. I’ve already entered six races this year so I’m reasonably confident I’ll earn myself 10 running medals this year. I just need to avoid picking up any too many niggles.

Complete 15 parkruns – Now that Sutton Park parkrun is up and running – apologies for the rubbish pun – I don’t have to rely on lifts to and from Walsall Arboretum, I can run into Sutton Park. Last year, I aimed to complete 10 parkruns and ended up completing 13; a massive increase on the one parkrun I completed in 2017. I suspect this running goal may be slightly lacking in ambition, so I’ll see how I’m getting on in June and update it if needed.

Volunteer 10 times at parkrun – I’ve been pretty rubbish at volunteering at parkrun. Having to rely on lifts to and from Walsall Arboretum made volunteering difficult. I felt I had to complete parkrun as quickly as possible and then run back to the person who had (reluctantly) driven me to the Arboretum. Now that I can run to Sutton Park parkrun, I’ll be volunteering on a more regular basis.   parkrun volunteering

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

A sub 8-minute mile – I’ve just looked through all my old race listings on Fetcheveryone and my current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012. I’d like to lower my mile PB at some point this year, possibly at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May. I’ve already entered the Vitality London 10,000 which takes place the following day, so I could go for a weekend of PBs.

A sub 25-minute 5k – Last year, I set myself the goal of completing every parkrun in under 30 minutes. My times ranged between 27:10 and 33:59 so I more or less achieved my goal. I set my parkrun PB of 26:49 in February 2016 when I weighed less than I do now and was fitter. Once again, I suspect I’ll find running 5k in under 25 minutes incredibly challenging but I’m going to give it a go.

A sub 60-minute 10k – in 2016, 2017 and 2018 I set myself the challenge of completing a 10k in under 55 minutes. After struggling to complete the so-called ‘fast’ Lichfield 10k in 61:17 and feeling completely demoralised, I’ve decided to set myself the challenge of completing a 10k in under an hour. I was going to enter the flat and fast Fradley 10k in March, but I already have a date with a half marathon on the same day. I just hope the weather on the morning of the Vitality London 10,000 in May is kind this year.

A sub 2:15 half marathon – After completely messing up my pacing, I finished the Royal Parks Half in 2:24:19. Although this was a 5+ minute PB, I came away from London feeling disappointed. The training plan I’ve cobbled together for my next half marathon – the London Landmarks Half – started on Monday. My running mojo has returned and *touch wood* my temperamental left foot is behaving itself. I’m quietly confident I’ll be able to improve my half marathon PB in March.

Listen to my niggles – I’ve said this countless times before, but I’m definitely an injury-prone runner. Some runners hardly ever seem to get injured – or else they are really good at pretending they don’t – I seem to spend a lot of time nursing various niggles. As I don’t want to spend weeks on end feeling envious of other runners, I’m going to continue to listen to and closely monitor my aches and pains. Finances permitting, I’m also going to continue to work with a local sports injury expert. Knee injury

[Source]

Improve my core strength – At the moment, my core strength is pretty much nonexistent. My friend who is a qualified running coach friend has told me that if I want to stop getting injured all the time, I need to improve my core strength. In between Christmas and New Year, I spent far too long time watching core strength exercise for beginner’s themed videos on YouTube.

Run with others more – I set this as a running goal last year and did reasonably well. I tracked down a local running group in Wallingford and ran with them when my training schedule allowed. I’ll never forget some of the more challenging runs I completed with Run Wallingford. Running with faster runners most definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, it nearly killed me. Run WallingfordThis year, I’m aiming to run with Run Wallingford on a more regular basis. I’m only going to be working in Wallingford until the end of March, so I need to make the most of the time I’ve got left there. I’m also aiming to complete the majority of my long weekend training runs with Ellen. Running in Sutton Park is far, far more enjoyable than running around Four Oaks.

Train consistently – I’ve never been great at running and training consistently; some months I love running and will run 3-4 times a week. Other months I seem to fall out of love with running and don’t run at all. If I want to improve as a runner, I need to train more consistently. I also need to get better at actually following training plans.

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – I set myself the same goal last year and failed miserably. My family bought me some amazing running gear for Christmas. I also treated myself to some trainers in the Brooks sale, a couple of t-shirts and a pair of gloves in the Lululemon sale and some 2XU capris in the TK Maxx sale. So although I’m definitely going to have to invest in a couple of replacement running bras sooner rather than later, I don’t need to buy anything else.

I know I ask the same question every January, have you set yourself any running goals for the year ahead?

Have you entered any target races?

Can you recommend any core strength exercises or YouTube videos that are relatively beginner-friendly?