London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 10

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone who reads my waffle had an amazing weekend. I had an enjoyable but perhaps slightly chaotic weekend. I’m feeling tired this morning, getting out of bed this morning was difficult.Collage 24Week 10 of my half marathon training plan – the ‘peak’ week – recommended that I completed a 30 minute easy run on Monday, a 60 minute easy run on Thursday, a 5k run or parkrun on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute run on Sunday. After missing far too many longer runs, I was determined to run for a couple of hours on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the tenth week of my London Landmarks Half training? Did my niggly right knee behave itself? Did I remain injury free? Did I allow the pub to get in the way of running?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

After a celebratory wine and beer on Sunday evening, I started the week with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately for everyone, I felt a lot better after the walk into the office. Thanks to some computer related issues – I’m pretty certain computers shouldn’t take 30 minutes to load – I didn’t have the most productive morning ever. The afternoon didn’t improve and I wasn’t in the best of moods when I left work.

The walk back to my room and a sneaky powernap helped me to shift my slightly grumpy mood. I decided to postpone my 30 minute run by a day as my right knee felt quite niggly after my long run on Sunday and I felt too tired to run. Not the most positive start to the week, perhaps I need to avoid working on Mondays.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

Thanks to some decent sleep, I woke up feeling reasonably refreshed, even my archaic work computer failed to wind me up. I spent the day preparing flow and groundwater data for a hydrology report and felt like I’d had a productive day when I left the office with a colleague. I’m not sure what happened, but we ended up back in The Old Post Office enjoying a beer and some healthy snacks crisps. Fortunately, my colleague could only stay for a couple; otherwise there is no way I would have headed out for a run.Collage 25I escaped from The Old Post Office, picked up some bits and pieces in Waitrose, got back to my room and then spent an hour writing a product review and watching Casualty. Once I felt confident the beer had settled, I got changed into some running gear and headed out of the door before I could change my mind. The half hour run felt reasonably easy, the beer just about stayed put and I avoided having an unfortunate incident in the centre of Wallingford. It felt good to make a start on ‘peak’ week.

Wednesday – Rest

My computer finally ‘died’ and I spent quite a lot of time on the ‘phone talking to someone on the computer helpdesk. I’m not sure why I was told changing my password would solve my computer related woes; it didn’t. In the end, I abandoned my computer, tracked down a spare desktop and managed to finish collating a technical report that had to be completed by Friday. My colleague very kindly saved me from a wet walk, gave me a lift back to her house in Wallingford and cooked us an awesome meal.

The rest of the evening was incredibly chilled out, just what this doctor ordered. I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to run before work. Sensible people would have gone to bed at a reasonable time, I somehow ended up watching violin master classes on YouTube and completely lost track of the time. Who needs sleep..?

Thursday – 60 mins easy

Getting out of bed at 05:30 was a bit of a struggle. Once I got outside, it took me quite a long time to wake up and to get into my stride, to be honest, the run felt anything but easy. I was reminded that Wallingford is quite a small town and that the bridge over the River Thames is just like Mount Everest when your legs are feeling tired. Although the run was challenging, it felt incredibly satisfying to complete a midweek training run before 07:00. It’s just a shame my lack of fitness meant that the post-run walk into the office seemed to take forever.

Computer issues meant that work was a little frustrating at times. Anyone who has ever used ArcGIS will know you need a decent computer to actually use it; my temporary computer didn’t seem to cope with the map I was trying to produce. My early start meant that by lunchtime I was feeling pretty tired, I’ve got so much respect for people who run before work, I couldn’t do it on a regular basis.

The rest of Thursday was a little predictable. One minute I was in the office, the next I was enjoying a couple of pints in The Old Post Office. I think it’s safe to say that I slept well on Thursday night.

Friday – Rest

I had a productive Friday as I was quite literally the only person in the office from my team. Walking to lunch on my own felt a little strange, but I found myself a different team to sit with. After a short but productive afternoon, I escaped from the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks after a reasonably stress free journey, three hours later. The evening was dull but incredibly productive as I made a great start on my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I’ve no idea how I used to go out every Friday evening, these days I’m in bed well before midnight.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

I looked at the weather forecast, saw it was going to be a tad soggy, and decided not to head to my local parkrun. I spent the morning replying to emails, reading Tokyo Marathon race recaps – one day, I’d love to go to Tokyo, and generally faffing around. At lunchtime I met up with a friend in Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green for an early lunch. I decided to be brave and opted for a new to me starter; the Goats’ cheese bruschetta. I’m not a huge fan of beetroot but quite enjoyed the bruschetta. The steak with my steak-frites was a little chewy, and the Crème brûlée quite small compared to last time. I guess you can’t win them all.Collage 26After lunch, I had the enjoyable experience of Sutton Coldfield on a Saturday afternoon. I had to collect an order from TK Maxx and needed to buy a couple of birthday cards. TK Maxx was incredibly busy but people didn’t seem to be actually buying anything. I was in and out of the store in less than five minutes, definitely a personal best. I grabbed a couple of birthday cards and escaped from the crowds. The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think sleep and lots of carbs – I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 120-130 mins easy 80 mins easy

I felt shattered when my alarm woke me at 05:00, not the best way to feel before a long training run. I lay in bed and mentally debated the pros and cons of getting my run done first thing in the morning, the pros just about outweighed the cons so I reluctantly got out of bed. The weather wasn’t ideal; cold, wet and quite windy, and it took me a long time to find my rhythm. My stomach unfortunately didn’t feel ‘right’ from the start, and after an hour of running, I reluctantly headed back home. I’m hoping that running for 80 minutes is better than running for zero minutes.LLHM MapI just about made it back home and headed straight to the loo. Loo stop completed, I headed to the kitchen made myself drink a pint of strawberry milkshake, stretched and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. I treated myself to a bit of a lie-in and watched the Big Half in bed – watching all the runners made me feel a tad lazy – next year I will hopefully at least start the race.

So that’s the tenth week of my half marathon training not really completed. I can’t believe there are now only a couple of weeks to go. I most definitely don’t feel at all prepared at the moment.

The penultimate week of the training plan I’ve been following is described as the ‘start of the taper’. To be honest, I haven’t done enough training to justify or to need a taper. I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog later today, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday and a 60 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. If my knee feels okay, I may try to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 18 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 99.59 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
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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.

The true cost of running

Good morning and happy Tuesday. This year, I’m aiming to save at least £500 a month. A lot of money, but it should be achievable if I’m sensible. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (very often) and I rarely go out out. I’m trying to cut down the number of takeaways I treat myself to. I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘proper’ holiday.

In theory, I don’t even have an expensive hobby. People keep reminding me that running is one of the cheapest sports out there. Running can be a cheap hobby, but in my experience can become quite expensive.

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Is running really that cheap? I spent an uncomfortable 30 minutes or so going through my 2018 running-related expenditure to see how much my cheap(?) hobby cost.

I really, really hope that my family don’t read this post…

Running clothes and trainers

  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £55
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £50
  • Feetures socks – £10
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech racerback top – £24
  • Feetures socks – £12
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Tribe Sports running leggings – £14.99
  • Karrimor reflective running tights – £15.99
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech short sleeve top – £29
  • 2XU reflective running leggings – £19.99
  • Nike running shorts – £10
  • Nike running jacket – £15.80
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers – £84
  • Nike Pro capris – £14.50

TOTAL: £451.27

Running accessories

  • Salomon running cap – £15.90
  • parkrun smoothband – £13.98
  • Sweaty Betty Anna headband – £11.50
  • Lululemon Run Fast gloves – £32
  • Lululemon Run All Day backpack – £65
  • Nathan Intensity hydration backpack – £69.92

TOTAL: £208.30

all-the-kit

Race entries

TOTAL: £350.20

Virtual races

  • Virtual Reading Half (replacement for Cambridge) – £12
  • Run Around the World Virtual Event – £13
  • Virtual Run Miles for Mind – £13.95
  • Run up to Christmas – £13
  • Virtual Runner 1000k – £13.50

TOTAL: £65.45

Travel and accommodation

  • Train to Cambridge Half – £10 (was originally £61.40 but got refund)
  • Train to Royal Parks Half – £28.30
  • Hotel in London before the Royal Parks Half – £159

TOTAL: £197.30

Running club

  • Fetch Everyone fees – £25

TOTAL: £25

Blogging

  • WordPress fees – £22
  • Plus a lot of my time writing for nothing!

TOTAL: £22

Miscellaneous

  • Royal Parks Half photos – £29.99
  • Donation to Alzheimer’s Society – £42

TOTAL: £71.99

GRAND TOTAL: £1391.51

Working out roughly how much I spent on my hobby last year actually made me feel quite embarrassed! I haven’t even included fuel and food costs.

I’m aware that I bought quite a few one-off purchases; for example the hydration pack and running backpack, however, I still spent a lot more than I thought. I don’t even want to work out how much money I wasted on races I DNS. I don’t think I’ll be entering any virtual races this year.

A lot of my running gear was either bought on eBay or in the sales, perhaps I should work out how much money I saved…

Fingers crossed 2019 is a slightly less expensive year. I’m going to avoid the temptation to enter races because of my #FOMO and I don’t need to buy any more running gear! I don’t think I’ll be entering any more race ballots this year.

Have you ever worked out how much money you spend on running in a year? I’d love to know if it’s more or less than I managed to spend in 2018.

Do you set yourself a running budget? I think I’m going to have to set myself a budget and will be slightly more selective when it comes to entering races this year.

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? 

2018 Review: Running highlights & lessons learned

As 2018 is almost over – I swear January was only a month ago – I’ve decided to review my running highlights, lowest points and lessons learned throughout the year. As always, if you don’t enjoy reading lengthy posts I’d recommend that you close the page. Here are the links to my reviews of 2017 and 2016.

January

While most sensible people were out and about having fun, I quite literally ran into 2018. If I’m injury-free, I’m planning to do the same again this year. I started 2018 feeling positive and shared my running goals and entered a slightly ambitious number of races.Sutton ParkTraining for the Cambridge Half Marathon was going well, and I felt reasonably niggle free. I relocated to Wallingford to start a new job and joined up with the local running group; Run Wallingford, for some challenging training sessions. I completed my first Walsall Arboretum parkrun of the year in 29:15 and had some incredibly enjoyable runs in Sutton Park.

February

I was thrilled when I discovered I’d finally got a ballot place in the Royal Parks Half, and paid the £57+£3.95 postage and packaging entry fee without hesitating. A top tip, always check out the route and read the small print before entering expensive races. Although my Cambridge Half Marathon training continued, a frustrating knee niggle meant that I missed quite a few key training runs. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t feel very confident as the half marathon approached. I completed one parkrun in a slightly faster time of 28:44 and set myself the target of running the 5k distance in less than 25 minutes in 2018.

March

I unfortunately missed my target race the Cambridge Half Marathon due to illness; a touch embarrassing when I’d raised £500 for The Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. Once I’d recovered, I completed the inaugural and very exclusive, Four Oaks Half with Ellen and spent the rest of the day in bed feeling terrible.Post run selfieI also found myself running laps around Walsall Arboretum three times in March in times of 28:03, 29:05 and 29:51.Walsall parkrun 24_03_18 1

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

So much for getting faster with each parkrun, I’m definitely getting slower with age. A highlight of one of my trips to Walsall Arboretum was getting to meet blogging and running superstar; Anna the Apple.

April

At the beginning of April, I realised that I wasn’t really enjoying running, heading out the door had become a chore. After following training plans for what felt like months, I decided to run for fun for a while. It was time to keep it simple with no time or distance pressures. This approach seemed to work, and I completed what turned out to be my most enjoyable race of the year; the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run in a respectable time.Hopwas Woods

[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

It’s just a shame in typical Emma style I managed to injure my right knee during the race. I ended up missing a 10k race I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity to enter again; the Treehouse 10k in Cholsey near Wallingford.

May

The start of May saw me reach the grand old age of 39! I can’t believe I’m nearly 40, I don’t feel like I’ve achieved very much. The highlight of what was a really low-key birthday was my right knee coping with a five-mile run after work. The following Bank Holiday weekend I celebrated my birthday with a trip to Walsall Arboretum parkrun – I was quite pleased to finish in 28:18 – and far, far too much food and drink.

The following weekend I completed Walsall Arboretum parkrun in 27:10, my fastest parkrun of 2018. I met up with Ellen for a couple of training runs in Sutton Park, experienced a not so relaxing post-work run with Run Wallingford, and at the end of the month, jogged around the hottest race ever; the Wallingford Thames Run.Group photo

[Photo: Run Wallingford]

The pint of cold and refreshing beer tasted amazing, all races should provide bars and BBQs. Looking back, May was a pretty awesome month.

June

The first weekend in June saw me complete a not very enjoyable Walsall Arboretum parkrun in 28:14, and the even less enjoyable Great Midlands Fun Run the following day. The highlight of the weekend was definitely the BBQ and beer afterward. I’ve said it before, but don’t think I’ll enter the Great Midlands Fun Run again, each year I either end up injured or have a shit time. I shared a really personal blog and received a shed load of support from people I’ll probably never meet. I completed another boiling hot race; the Aldridge 10k and failed to achieve a sub-60 minute 10k.

July

At the start of the month I shared a halfway(ish) through the year running goals progress report and adjusted some of my goals. Thanks to some major rail engineering works, I spent the weekend in Wallingford and finally popped my parkrun tourism cherry at a boiling hot Didcot parkrun.Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

A couple of weeks later, I returned to Walsall Arboretum and completed my tenth parkrun of the year in 27:52. I accepted that my sub 25-minute goal would have to wait until 2019, I just wasn’t fast enough. The following morning, I found myself running in Sutton Park with Ellen.Sutton Park ice cream

I was reminded that running with others is really, really good fun. I also discovered that I can run a couple of miles immediately after eating an ice cream without any repercussions. The end of July saw me complete the incredibly challenging and soggy Abbott Trail 10k and start my Royal Parks Half Marathon training.

August

Unfortunately, August wasn’t the most positive of months as my PhD supervisor, mentor and close friend Geoff Petts passed away. I’ll never forget opening the email with the heading ‘Geoff’ and realising that I’d missed my opportunity chance to say goodbye. Running and the Boat House pub next to the River Thames became my escape mechanisms. Although I *may* on occasion have had a few too many beers, I managed to complete the majority of my training runs.Sutton Park parkrun finish

[Photo: Richard Hill]

I also attended and wrote a brief review of the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun. After several failed attempts to get a Sutton Park parkrun up and running, it felt amazing to finally have a parkrun in my local park.

September

September was a far more positive month. I completed another four weeks of half marathon training and just about managed to avoid picking up any injuries. I really enjoyed a spot of volunteering at Sutton Park parkrun and managed to bag myself a sneaky PB at the Little Aston 5 mileparkrun volunteering

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

The following weekend I completed the Lichfield 10k in a disappointing 61:17. I made my usual mistake of setting out at a far too ambitious pace and paid the price. So much for finishing in under 60 minutes.Lichfield 10k

[Photo: Mick Hall Photos]

While my own performance was pretty shit, my sister-in-law Julie completed the 10k distance in an absolutely amazing time.Lichfield 10k 2018

My slightly disappointing 28:23 parkrun summed up September. At the end of September, I returned to my old university to present some of my research at a hydrology conference. The conference was emotionally draining as it was originally going to be a large part of Geoff’s retirement celebrations.

October

The first Friday in October saw me travel into London for Geoff’s memorial service. The congregation was a who’s who of academia and hydrology. This quote will stay with me forever:

“The candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long”

I stepped up my fundraising efforts and got closer to my £1000 target. Thanks again to everyone who sponsored me. I completed the final few sessions of half marathon training and felt quite confident I’d be able to achieve my sub 2:15 goal. I travelled to London the day before the half marathon and spent a slightly emotional day walking around parts of Marylebone and Southwark.

I wouldn’t recommend eating three large meals the day before a half marathon. I went to bed feeling like a giant slug. The weather on the morning of the Royal Parks Half was incredibly ‘hydrological’, I don’t think I’ve ever run in such wet conditions. The course was more than a little disappointing, I don’t think I’ll enter the ballot again.Royal Parks Half

I’m a little ashamed to admit that immediately after the Royal Parks half I completely lost my running mojo; I just didn’t feel like running. I wasn’t injured, I just couldn’t be bothered to pull on my trainers.

November

I’ve just checked my training log and discovered that I ran seven miles in November. The combination of a persistent knee niggle combined with a complete loss of running mojo meant that I just didn’t feel like running. Even buying new running gear in the Black Friday sales and reading my favourite running blogs didn’t seem to help.

I ran Sutton Park parkrun with Fetchie Rachel, realised that my knee still didn’t feel 100 per cent, and decided to DNS both the Birmingham MoRun and the Birmingham Christmas BII 10k. In an attempt to rediscover my running mojo, I treated myself to some running magazines. My loss of mojo had one slightly unexpected advantage, all the extra free time meant that I managed to get most of my Christmas presents purchased and wrapped and Christmas cards written. I also managed to complete some slightly overdue product reviews. Every cloud and all of that shebang.

On the final day of November, I entered the Run up to Christmas virtual running challenge and set myself the target of completing 50 km before Christmas Day.

December

December got off to a far, far more positive start. My right knee finally decided to stop randomly hurting, and for the first time in a month, I actually wanted to run. I got up stupidly early one Saturday morning and entered my target race for the second half of 2019. I met up with Ellen for a series of weekend runs in Sutton Park, these saw us running in some slightly tricky conditions. I also managed to fit in a few runs around Wallingford after work.Rainy Selfie

A lack of transport meant that I unfortunately didn’t make it to the Wheaton Aston 10k yesterday. I can’t wait to get my own car in 2019. After really enjoying quite literally running into this year, I’m planning on running into 2019.

In standard Emma style, I’ve already set myself some running and fitness goals for 2019. Some are quite challenging, and some scare me a little. I just need my left foot to behave itself as I want to start running regularly again. I’ve got two half marathons in London in March.

I think it’s safe to say that on both a personal level and as a runner, 2018 had its ups and downs. Probably more ups than downs. Although my monthly mileage was reasonably consistent throughout most of the year, you can see where I completely lost my running mojo. This combined with a couple of niggles, meant that I got nowhere near my target of running 1000 km in 2018.

2018 milesI’m hoping that 2019 is slightly less turbulent.

What was the running highlight of 2018 for you? Although the weather was far from ideal, my running highlight was completing the Royal Parks Half Marathon.

What are your running and fitness goals for 2019? I’ve set myself the challenge of not buying any unessential running related purchases. I failed in 2018 but will succeed in 2019!

How I’m rediscovering my running mojo

I’ve lost my running mojo.

It disappeared immediately after the Royal Parks Half Marathon, and I’m struggling to find it again. After a decent performance in the Royal Parks combined with some epic fundraising, I’ve struggled to run on a regular basis. Some weeks, my trainers have remained unworn and my Garmin battery has gone flat.A well placed benchMy right knee and left foot have been a little niggly. I’ve no idea what I’ve done to my right knee, it started to hurt one morning when I was walking to work, it’s all a bit of a mystery. I suspect the ‘niggle’ in my left foot is related to the stress fracture, it only hurts when it’s cold.

I’m not using this as an excuse, but I’ve also been feeling both mentally and physically exhausted a lot of the time. I think the lack of sleep combined with what has happened this year have finally caught up with me.

I’ve rather foolishly entered two half marathons in London in March, so I need to get my running mojo back ASAP.

Here’s my advice for rediscovering your running mojo. As usual, I’m struggling to follow my own advice.

Enter races – Although I enjoy running on my own, this year I’ve rediscovered my love of taking part in organised races.London Landmarks HalfNothing beats running somewhere new with likeminded people. The medal at the end is just an added bonus. I’ve got everything crossed I make it to the start line of my next 10k race on Sunday. If I don’t, I’ve got the Wheaton Aston 10k to look forward to next month. My sister-in-law has also entered, so I’ve got even more of an incentive to take part.

Set some goals – I’ve always struggled to keep myself motivated without goals. At school I’d set myself attainment goals, slightly geeky but it worked for me. I like to set myself running and fitness goals and share them on here to make myself slightly more accountable. While I’ve accepted I won’t be grabbing myself are more PBs this year, injury permitting, I’d like to run 50 miles in December.

Start again – If you haven’t fun for some time, it may well be worth going back to basics, and starting again. I’ve completed the Couch to 5k twice after recovering from running injuries. More recently, I returned to running with a slow parkrun. It was perfect, just what this doctor ordered.

Run with others – This summer, I discovered that running with others not only takes some of the pressure off, it also means that the miles fly (sort of) by. My Sunday morning runs in Sutton Park with Ellen were definitely my running highlight of 2018. We ran at a sensible pace, and stopped to take selfies and to eat ice cream. Perfect! I really hope your injury clears up quickly Ellen.Sutton Park ice creamI also enjoyed a few runs after work with my line manager. I’m gutted that these runs probably won’t happen again. A couple of weeks ago, I arranged to meet someone whose blog I’d enjoyed reading for years at Sutton Park parkrun. I hope that your hand is feeling a lot better Rachel, and you are back running again really soon. I’m sorry your first experience of Sutton Park parkrun didn’t go to plan.

Try something new – I suspect my running mojo disappeared because my training runs got too predictable. I estimate that in the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon, 95% of my training runs were completed in the dark, on the pavements of Four Oaks and Wallingford. My running routine got too predictable and almost boring. Don’t make the same mistake; hit the trails, try a track session or embrace the mud. Mix it up.

Be a parkrun tourist – I finally popped my parkrun tourism cherry this summer when I travelled to Didcot parkrun.Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

Although the course was a little uninspiring, I met loads of other parkrun tourists and enjoyed running somewhere completely different. Not knowing the route was quite exciting. When I get a car, I’m determined to explore more of my local parkruns. Finally, check out Anna’s running blog. Anna has recently completed the parkrun alphabet challenge, such an amazing achievement!

Volunteer – If you don’t feel like running consider volunteering. I can pretty much guarantee that marshalling at your local parkrun will help you rediscover your running mojo. I’m looking forward to a spot of volunteering this weekend.

Listen to podcasts – I started to find my long Sunday morning training runs quite monotonous. Quite a few runners suggested downloading and listening to podcasts, so here are a few of my favourites.Running PodcastsI must admit I was a little sceptical, but listening to a podcast really did seem to make the time go faster during my final long run. I’ve now started to listen to podcasts while I’m blogging and also when I vacuum.

I Run On – I can pretty much guarantee that watching this short film will help you rediscover your running mojo.I Run On

Otherwise try watching a running-themed film, there are plenty to choose from, my favourite is Without Limits.

New kit – treat yourself. I’m going to sound really fickle, but new kit is pretty much guaranteed to get me running again. Buy that running top you’ve been secretly admiring for months, if it works for me, it may well work for you too.

Don’t stress – Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like running. At the end of the day, running is meant to be fun. Stick your trainers and running gear on and head outside for a walk. You never know, you might find yourself running again.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my hints and tips. What are your tips for rediscovering your running mojo when it goes AWOL? Have I missed any?