Running goals for 2019: Progress report

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

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

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

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

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

parkrun volunteering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Train consistently – Does consistently training inconsistently count?

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

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

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

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

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Rants and raves #37

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after a not so successful day in the office. I’m also feeling slightly more stressed than normal as I’m still trying to get used to working in a busy office. Apologies if this selection of rants and raves are more moany than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available, I’m always happy to recommend a few**

Rave: Being back at home

While I think it’s safe to say that I grew to love living and working in Wallingford, I’m enjoying being back at home in Four Oaks. I’m saving a fortune on train tickets and rent, and with my side hustles am managing to transfer a fair amount of money into my savings account each month. It’s just a shame it took me 40 years to start making the effort to save money.

Rant: Commuting

One of the few downsides of living back in Four Oaks and working in Solihull is the commute. My commute into the Wallingford office comprised of a 20 minute walk along a route which included crossing Wallingford Bridge. I loved stopping off at the River Thames each morning.

Four Oaks to Solihull

My new commute takes over an hour as I have to catch a train into Birmingham New Street, walk to Birmingham Moor Street and then catch a train to Solihull. After enduring a couple of overcrowded trains, I’ve decided that although getting up at 05:30 is challenging, missing both the morning and evening rush hours makes it worthwhile.

I’m looking forward to the day the office moves into the centre of Birmingham.

Rave: My Wallingford colleagues

My colleagues in Wallingford gave me the most amazing send-off. My final week was a nonstop marathon of after work meals and drinks. By the final day I was shattered and felt like a beached whale.

The comments in my leaving card made me a little teary and my leaving presents were incredibly thoughtful.  I’m keeping an eye on the internal jobs board for permanent jobs in the Wallingford office.

Rant: Hot desking

Another reason I’m missing working in the Wallingford office is what I’m going to call the joy of hot desking. In the Wallingford office, I was allocated my own desk and as long as it was kept reasonably clear, I was allowed to leave my cup, work etc on my desk when I went home. It definitely made life easier as I knew I had somewhere to sit. It also meant that my chair and monitor etc were set up correctly.

Hotdesking

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My new office operates a strict hot desking policy. I’m finding having to sit at a different desk every day quite hard to get used to. There is a lot less conversation in the new office. I can see why a lot of people work from home.

Rave: Skid Row Marathon

I watched the Skid Row Marathon documentary last May and wrote the following:

 “I don’t want to give too much away, but if you get the opportunity please, please go and watch Skid Row Marathon. I was in tears before it even started. ..”

Skid Row Marathon

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For less than the cost of a pint in my local pub, Skid Row Marathon is now available to stream via this link.

Rant: Social Media

I’ve been avoiding social media recently as I find the utter crap that some people write incredibly frustrating. I know that I can just scroll past and ignore the crap, but it’s now so widespread it’s getting difficult.

duty_calls

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And as for the people who hide behind anonymous social media accounts to dish out snarky comments; please don’t. I didn’t appreciate being called a fat and worthless lazy f**ker, and doubt that you’d have the balls to say it to my face.

Rave: Plogging Sutton Coldfield

I recently ranted about people who litter; I’m now going to rave about a group I spotted on Farcebook.

Since moving back to Four Oaks, I’ve been searching the internet for local running groups. I spotted a page called Plogging Sutton Coldfield and got in contact with James, the local runner who set up the Farcebook page. I’m going to see if I can drum up a bit of local support.

Rant: Your parkrun needs you posts

I’m not sure if it’s due to the weather or time of year, but I’ve noticed a lot of ‘Your parkrun needs you’ posts on social media recently.

Your parkrun needs you

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The Farcebook page for my local parkrun – Sutton Park parkrun – has almost 1300 likes. Unfortunately, despite several shout outs for help, it was almost cancelled last weekend due to a lack of marshals.

I tried to promote volunteering in the run report  I produced a few weeks ago. I guess the whole point of volunteering is that people don’t have to volunteer unless they want to.

Rave: My new blog header

Now that I have a bit more free time on a Sunday evening, I’m aiming to improve the layout of this blog. I spent far too long debating the pros and cons of changing the name of my blog. I eventually decided to stick with the PhD Runner and invested in a new blog header. I just need to invest in a new theme.

I was about to invest in the blog migration service offered by Pipdig when it all got a bit heated online. However, as I’ve had enough of the irritating advert at the top of the page I’m now researching alternatives. If anyone can recommend an alternative to Pipdig then please get in touch 🙂

If you’ve got to the end of this random selection of rants and raves, then I’d like to say a massive “thank-you”. As always, I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I feel a little better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans.

Does your office operate a hot desking policy? I’m aware that hot desking is quite popular, I’d love to hear some positive stories.

Have you watched Skid Row Marathon? If you haven’t please consider paying to watch it on Vimeo. I’m not on commission, I just think it’s an amazing running documentary.

Rants and raves #36

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

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

Rave: My 40th birthday

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

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

Rant: My 40th birthday

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

Happy Birthday

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

Rave: Recognition for this blog

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

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

Rant: The Weather

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

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

Rave: Volunteering at parkrun

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

Marshal briefingSutton Park parkrun tail walker

[Photos: Peter Heafield]

The healthier eating has now started.

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

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

Rant: Having to leave Wallingford

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

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

Rave: Alysia Montaño

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

Rant: Public transport

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

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

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

Rave: Exposé – Let Me Be The One

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

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

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

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

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

Returning to running after a knee injury and aZengear compression review

I hope that everyone is having an amazing week; at least it’s almost the weekend. I think I’ve just about recovered from a slightly traumatic interview yesterday lunchtime. I think the expression ‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ quite accurately described what happened.

I don’t want to put some sort of random ‘injury curse’ on myself, but after almost two months of no running and a lot of knee strengthening exercises, I think that I’m ‘up and running’ again.

With apologies for the randomness, this quote sums up why I’ve missed running so much:

“Our running shoes have magic in them. The power to transform a bad day into a good day; frustration into speed; self-doubt into confidence; chocolate cake into muscle.”
– Mina Samuels, author of Run Like a Girl 

Although I’m not a huge fan of chocolate cake, since the day I DNS the London Landmarks Half, I’ve eaten far, far too much unhealthy food. I’ve also developed an unhealthy post-work drinking habit. I was definitely using my injury as an excuse to overindulge. Let’s just say the scales don’t lie. The healthier regime starts once I’ve celebrated(!?) my 40th birthday at the beginning of May. I’m pretty sure that most 40-year-old women don’t pop into McDonald’s every Sunday evening.Unhealthy choicesWhen I was unable to run, I spent a bit of far too much time thinking about all of the running injuries I’ve had. In my first ever post way back in March 2013 I described myself as an incredibly injury-prone runner. I seem to spend most of the time trapped in a running injury cycle. I wasn’t able to find out what happened to Small Town Runner – hopefully, they haven’t retired from running due to injury – but this running injury cycle diagram is pretty accurate.Running Injury Cycle

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If I remember and if people are interested, I’m going to blog about how I went back to basics to hopefully break my own personal running injury cycle. Let’s just say, I was a little embarrassed when I realised that I’d been working a short walk from a sports injury rehabilitation centre since last January. Not one of my finest moments.

Since the beginning of the month, I’ve been running for 15-20 minutes two or three times a week. I’ve left my Garmin behind as I didn’t want to compare my running to this time 12 months ago. Although *touch wood* my knee seems to be coping, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take part in the three 10k events I’ve entered in May.

Now that I’ve finished complaining about my knee and self-inflicted weight gain, I’m going to quickly review a couple of products I’ve been testing. I hope you all enjoy reading the review and find it useful.

aZengear Compression review

At the start of March, Emily one of the co-founders of aZengear, contacted me after reading this blog. Emily wanted to send me some free samples for review. I agreed as I enjoy working with and hopefully increasing the awareness of slightly lesser known brands. As I already own far too many pairs of compression calf sleeves, I opted for a pair of compression socks and a compression knee sleeve. My right knee was incredibly niggly at the time, so I thought it would be really interesting to see if the knee sleeve helped my knee.

Before I start my review, I’m aware that people may not have come across aZengear Compression (I hadn’t) so here’s a very quick introduction to the brand.

A quick introduction to aZengear Compression

aZengear is a UK startup for compression gear for sports, travel and daily wear. The co-founders mission is to design and manufacture compression gear products that contribute to healthy living and make a difference in people’s lives.

The aZengear product range currently includes:

  • Graduated compression socks for sports and travel
  • Compression calf sleeves for running
  • Plantar fasciitis socks
  • Compression knee sleeves for running, squats, weightlifting and arthritis

The compression socks and knee sleeve were well packaged and arrived promptly. Both items came with a Read Me First card which provides information about a 30 day warranty and bonus, wash and care instructions and contact details in case there are any issues with the product. I wish more brands provided the same information.

Compression Knee Sleeve

According to aZengear’s website, if you suffer from intermittent or constant knee pain, their compression knee sleeve will provide immediate joint pain relief, improved blood circulation and muscular recovery. The knee sleeve is described as being perfect for a range of sports and activities, the infographic below provides more information. knee-sleeve-infographic-900x900

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I think it’s safe to say that my recent knee injury meant that I thoroughly tested the compression knee sleeve. So, first things first, did the knee sleeve fit? I’m pleased to report that for once I managed to send the correct measurements to a compression gear brand. The last knee brace I wore was a far too tight behind my knee and felt uncomfortable after I’d been wearing it for a while. I didn’t have any issues with the aZengear knee sleeve, it felt reasonably comfortable and the material didn’t cause any unwanted skin reactions.

As my right knee wasn’t coping very well with the two mile walk to and from the office – walking down the steps on Wallingford Bridge to the Riverside Park was a painful experience – I wore the knee sleeve five days a week. I found the knee sleeve the perfect length and just the right level of compression. It didn’t slide down my leg and remained in place all day. Finally, I think I need to point out that with the exception of short sprints across main roads, I haven’t run in the compression knee sleeve.

Graduated Compression Socks

aZengear describe their graduated compression socks as being perfect for those who are on the move. The socks are described as being a great fit for a range of people including runners, nurses, hikers, cyclists and those suffering from varicose veins, DVT or recovering after surgery. The socks are described as being reliable, stylish, affordable and most importantly, effective. Once again, I’ve included an infographic in order to provide more information. pink-sock-on-white-900x900

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Once I’d realised that there wasn’t a dedicated left and right sock, the graduated compression socks were fairly easy to put on the first time I wore them. I was little surprised to discover they were so long they almost covered my knees. I have longer than average legs so this made a refreshing change, however, shorter runners may find that the socks are too long.aZengear compression socksI’ve worn the compression socks during and for an hour after the majority of my post-knee injury training runs. I genuinely believe that wearing the socks has helped my gradual return to running. The socks provide a good level of compression, my calf muscles have been completely niggle free and my legs have felt amazing. The only minor complaint I have with the compression socks relates to the thickness of the material they are made from. I guess I’m just used to running in thin socks as these compression socks make my trainers feel slightly too tight.

The washing machine test

I’m repeating myself, again, but one of the reasons it takes me a while to publish my product reviews is that I like to wear and to wash items I’m reviewing several times. Unfortunately, in the past some of my running gear hasn’t coped very well with being washed. I’m still a little traumatised about my first ever Lululemon purchase. Having an injury which has prevented me from running also slowed down the review process! I’m pleased to report that the knee sleeve and the compression socks passed the washing machine test.

The Verdict

So, would I recommend aZengear compression to other runners? Yes, I would. The knee sleeve and graduated compression socks all felt comfortable when I wore them. I think that the knee sleeve helped to support my dodgy knee during my walks to and from work; I genuinely believe that it aided the recovery of my knee. The graduated compression socks appear to have helped my calves as I’ve made a return to running, I’ll definitely be wearing them as I increase my weekly mileage.

**Full disclosure: aZengear compression sent me a knee sleeve and a pair of graduated compression socks for free in return for an honest review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I wore the knee sleeve underneath my work trousers, I forgot to take any ‘action’ photos. The infographics in this review were taken from aZengear’s website. As always all opinions are my own**

The Ciderthon 2019 & Discount Code

If I didn’t have a knee injury, I’d definitely be taking part in the second running – apologies for the terrible pun – of the Ciderthon on Sunday May 5th 2019.n5o5ylhffkn2bbtfd36eAs a cider lover, hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky and I’ll be able to take part in 2020.

What’s the Ciderthon all about?

Who said you can’t drink cider and exercise? The event organisers bet that most of us have never run a race quite like the Ciderthon! I haven’t, yet. Experience an amazing day with friends filled with fitness, fun and cider. The organisers more or less guarantee entrants will work up a thirst every mile to fuel themselves with a different cider at each ‘dehydration stop’.

Water will be available too!

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The 13 and a bit miles cross some beautiful Somerset scenery before returning to the wonderful bars, food and music at the finish line.

Key Event Information

  • Start time: 11:00am (registration is open from 08:45am)
  • Bring your ticket and suitable ID
  • Fancy dress is encouraged
  • Entrants must have suitable footwear to participate

Check out the cider producers fuelling the half marathon

  • Sheppys Cider
  • Bumble Bee Cider
  • Crafty Nectar
  • Loxley
  • Tricky Cider
  • Crest Cyder
  • The Taunton Cider Co
  • Brothers Cider
  • The Orchard Pig
  • Beard and Sabre
  • The Cider Box

How to Enter

Tickets for the Ciderthon are currently available here and if you use the code EMMA10 you will receive a 10% discount!!

With your ticket you will receive

  • Finishers medal
  • T-shirt
  • 13 x cider tasters
  • Finishers pint
  • Ciderthon Village bars and fun open to all

52422320_2172288156416072_6197388120204247040_nFor more detailed information please check out the dedicated race website.

Become a CIDERTHONER SUNDAY 5TH OF MAY 2019!

#RunMilesDrinkCider

Rants and raves #34

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending the morning at the dentist, again. My debit card has taken a bit of a battering.  I’m also still not completely recovered from the lurgy and Wolves have just lost. As a result, this blog may be even more moany than usual if that’s possible. As always, all moans groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, far less negative running blogs are available**

Rave: The weather

I’m loving the weather at the moment; sunny but quite chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. On Thursday, it was mild enough for me to enjoy my first outdoors pint of the year after work. Although the weather isn’t meant to be great this week – I guess it’s time for some good old April showers – the forecast for next weekend looks reasonable.Spring 2019I just need to start running again sooner rather than later because at the moment I’m feeling incredibly unfit. I don’t want a repeat of a few years ago when I started running after a longish injury break and struggled because it was so warm.

Rant: EE network coverage

A rather random rant, but I’ve reached the stage I’ve had enough of EE. Someone told me that EE was formerly known as ‘Everything Everywhere’. I personally think EE should be called NA ‘Nothing Anywhere’. I do wonder how bad other networks are if EE keep winning this.EE best network

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My EE phone doesn’t tend to work in my office. This is incredibly frustrating when I need to check my personal email account (we aren’t allowed to access hotmail at work) and when someone tries to contact me. My phone lies and tells me it has 4G signal, the second I try to send a text the signal mysteriously disappears and the dreaded ‘No Signal’ appears on the screen.

My phone also doesn’t work for most of the journey between Oxford and Leamington Spa, in large areas of Four Oaks and in my house. Network coverage used to be a million times better, I’ve no idea why it is now so bad. And to think there are plans to install a 4G network on the Moon. I can’t wait to escape from EE when my contract ends in June.

Rave: Feedback from people who read this blog

Like most bloggers, I do sometimes wonder if people actually read my waffle. My blogging stats haven’t been that great recently, possibly because I haven’t had much to say. I was thrilled when Paul contacted me completely out of the blue to say they had found this running blog, and that my blog injected some welcome reality into things.

Thanks for taking the time to contact me Paul, your lovely feedback made my day. I’m hopeful that normal service will resume once I am up and running again!

Rant: My right knee

My fragile right knee has been incredibly painful – 9/10 on my niggleometer – for a couple of weeks now. Frustrating when the lurgy means that I haven’t been able to run recently. The ‘did not starts’ are starting to frustrate me, there’s no way I’m even going to attempt the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run on Sunday, last year I ended the race with a knee injury.

I had hoped that a break from running would help my right knee settle down and get better, if anything it seems to be more painful the longer I don’t run. I can’t avoid using it as I have to walk to and from the office Monday to Friday. I’ve been following the strengthening routine a sports physio gave me a couple of years ago and have been wearing a knee support. I’m rapidly running out of ideas…

Rave: The Old Post Office

I have a new favourite drinking establishment in Wallingford. After a couple of not so positive experiences, the Boat House has been relegated into second place and The Old Post Office promoted to first place.

As an added bonus, the food in The Old Post Office is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s a tad on the expensive side, definitely more of an occasional treat. I’m still not completely sure how two of us managed to spend £70 in there a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t even feeling tipsy when I left.

Rant: The Oxford Half Marathon ballot

With the exception of the London Marathon et al, I struggle with the concept of races having ballots. Races should be first come first served. I was more than a little surprised when a colleague told me that the Oxford Half was now ballot entry. I mean the Oxford Half didn’t even sell out in 2018. They also had an issue with medals; the complaints on social media were pretty impressive. I can only assume they held a ballot to encourage people to enter and to hype the event up.Oxford Half ballot

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I don’t know of anyone who entered who didn’t get a place through the ballot. I know some people didn’t get in via the first round of invites, but predictably they got a place via the second round of invites. I won’t complain about the price. Let’s just hope the medals arrive in time for the race this year.

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I know I’ve said it before, but after a few not very enjoyable seasons, I’m really enjoying being a Wolves supporter. I would love to be able to say that I’m heading down to the FA Cup Semi-Final on Sunday but I’m not. I’ve donated my ticket to a good friend who has never experienced the new(ish) Wembley.WolvesI just hope that he manages to get on the right train to London Euston, manages to find Wembley, and that Wolves put on a decent performance. If they get hammered by Watford it will be a disappointing day out for Wolves.

Rant: CrossCountry Trains

And while on the subject of trains, I want to rant about CrossCountry trains. I won’t complain about the fact most of their trains are overcrowded and quite clearly not designed for passengers with longer than average legs. I won’t complain about the fact that 90 per cent of the trains I catch on a Friday arrive into Birmingham New Street late. I do want to complain about the fact CrossCountry trains now charge £1 for the privilege(?) of having paper rather than e-tickets. When I contacted CrossCountry to ask why, this was part of their response: 

CrossCounty always offer a free method of fulfilment, and the £1 collection fee for collecting your tickets at a station is only chargeable where an m-Ticket or e-Ticket is available.

E-Tickets are easier to collect due to how flexible they are, you get four options for showing your ticket so you can save time queuing at the train station or waiting for your tickets to arrive in the post. You can show the PDF on your smartphone, print at home/work, send to Apple Wallet or use our Train Tickets app where your ticket will be visible in your wallet.”

I’m quite happy queuing at the train station for a couple of minutes to collect my tickets. I’d rather have paper tickets as I know they (1) will open the barriers at Oxford station, (2) will open the barriers at Birmingham New Street station, (3) don’t rely on having phone signal to actually work, (4) don’t rely on me having phone battery, (5) mean that I don’t have to risk dropping my phone when I’m already struggling to carry a couple of large bags and (6) are far more convenient.

And finally, I’m afraid I’m going to finish with a bonus rant…

Rant: Me!

I’ve been feeling incredibly gloomy and completely lacking in motivation for a couple of weeks now. Although not knowing where I’ll be living and working when my temporary contract ends probably isn’t helping, I’m blaming my gloominess on not being able to run. I’m definitely more positive when I can run. I’ve been struggling at work and have stopped enjoying my job. Getting out of bed each morning and heading into the office has been a chore. I haven’t felt like blogging and have struggled to find the motivation to write. Most evenings, I get back to my room; have a lengthy nap and then waste time watching TV.

I’ve got a job interview later this week and to be honest I don’t feel very well prepared. I don’t even know if I want the job, I just felt like I needed to apply for it as it’s a permanent position nearer to Four Oaks. Hopefully I’ll start to feel a bit more positive when I know what I’ll be doing when my temporary contract ends. Running will also help.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of 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 shared my moans and groans on here.

Do you have any recommendations for mobile phone providers? After 15+ years, I’ve had enough of Orange/EE. I’m just worried they are all equally as bad.

Do you agree with races holding ballots or do you think it should be first come first served? I can understand why races like the London, Chicago and Berlin Marathons hold ballots. I struggle with the concept of smaller races holding ballots.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training week 12

Good morning and happy Thursday. I hope that everyone who reads my weekly updates had a great weekend. Mine didn’t exactly go to plan. At least we’ve got most of the week out of the way, it will soon be the weekend again.
Collage 29The final week of my half marathon – taper week and race – recommended I completed an easy 20 minute run on Monday, a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady half hour run on Friday, and finally, a half marathon on Sunday. Spoiler, after spending several days in bed feeling terrible, it took me until Tuesday to accept I wouldn’t be well enough to complete a half marathon. A difficult decision to make but most definitely the right decision.

Monday – 20 mins easy Rest

The final week of my half marathon didn’t get off to the most positive of starts when I felt far too unwell to make the most of a day of annual leave. Like the vast majority of people – I can think of a couple of exceptions – I hate feeling so unwell I can’t function properly. Walking the mile to the local shops left me feeling exhausted and food didn’t taste right. Mum treated me to a small cooked breakfast at the local farm shop, I struggled to clear my plate. To add insult to injury, during one epic coughing fit I smashed my fragile left foot into the wooden storage box at the bottom of my bed. A week later it still feels painful. Only I could injure my foot coughing.

Tuesday – Rest

I had originally aimed to travel down to Wallingford so that I’d reach the office at lunchtime. I phoned my line manager who recommended I didn’t attempt to come into the office. I got off the phone and had a terrible coughing fit. I think it was at this point I accepted I wouldn’t be well enough to attempt a half marathon on Sunday. The thought of attending a two-day drought conference in Oxford was stressful enough.

After another what felt like another complete waste of a day, I walked the short distance to the local train station and started the long journey back down to Wallingford. I didn’t feel great but I was determined to attend the conference the following morning. A colleague very kindly picked me up from Oxford train station – apparently I looked shattered – and we drove back to Wallingford via McDonald’s. I clearly was far from well as I didn’t even manage to finish my chips.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable Rest

The short walk into the centre of Wallingford left me feeling shattered. I usually love a good hydrology related conference, however, the thought of spending the day listening to presentations while trying not to irritate people with my cough meant that I couldn’t relax. The venue of the conference was stunning – Pembroke College, Oxford – definitely a case of how the other half live go to university. Completely different to both Birmingham and Leeds University. And to think I turned down a place at Cambridge. It’s just a shame it was so cloudy and gloomy both days we were there.

The first day finished just before 17:00 then there was a drinks reception. By this stage I felt far too tired to network, so I positioned myself in a corner away from the crowds of conference delegates. I spotted one of my PhD external examiners, said a quick hello, made my excuses and headed back to Wallingford with a colleague. Most people would have headed straight to bed. I’m not sensible so I convinced my colleague to grab a bite to eat in the Old Post Office. I’m not sure drinking Malibu and Coke was sensible, but I slept well that night.

Thursday – Rest

I woke up well before my alarm feeling much better; my throat had progressed from what I call the irritating ‘tickly’ stage. I had a shower, got dressed into some reasonably smart (for me!) clothes and walked the short distance into the centre of Wallingford. I grabbed myself some breakfast in Greggs and met up with my colleague at the bus stop. We arrived at Oxford about an hour before the conference started so decided to pop into M&S. I checked out the length of some so-called ‘longer length’ trousers, and not for the first time wondered who actually buys clothes in M&S.
Collage 30Although I’d slept well, I found the second day of the conference tiring. Following the most amazing lunch – the Pembroke College dining hall made me think of Harry Potter – I found myself almost falling asleep a couple of times during the afternoon session. The presentations were informative, I just seemed to run out of energy. There wasn’t a lot of conversation during the bus journey back to Wallingford.

Friday – 30 mins steady Rest

After spending the week either at home or at the conference in Oxford, it felt slightly strange being back in the office. By the time I’d read almost 250 emails and had written up my end of year review, it was time for ‘fish and chips’ Friday. I was clearly not completely recovered as I struggled to finish my tiny portion of chips. Most people know my Friday afternoon routine, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. I briefly considered attempting a steady 30 minute run but decided I needed give myself more time to recover from the office lurgy. Definitely the right decision as I felt so tired I headed to bed straight after eating my traditional Friday evening Chinese. Not the most of productive of starts to the weekend.

Saturday – Rest

With the exception of buying two tickets for the FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley, Saturday was more or less a complete write-off. Completing a few simple adulting tasks in the morning left me feeling so tired, I clearly needed more sleep as I spent five hours in bed asleep. Another waste of a day. Not heading down to London was definitely the right decision. Although I felt much better when I woke up, I had no appetite and zero energy. More worryingly my head felt so fuzzy, I wasn’t able to make any progress on the academic paper I need to complete by the end of March. As for the job application I had planned on completing, not a chance!

Sunday – London Landmarks Half Marathon Rest

And so to Sunday, the day of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. Some runners seem to have the ability to complete half marathons and even marathons when they aren’t feeling 100 per cent. I’m definitely not one of those runners; I must be getting sensible now that I’m approaching 40. A slightly scary prospect! The nearest I got to running was putting my warmer winter running gear into storage, washing and retiring a pair of trainers, and putting my customised insoles into a pair of trainers I’d forgotten I’d bought in the sales. Please don’t let me buy any more trainers!

After what felt like the shortest and least productive weekend ever, I started the lengthy journey back down to Wallingford. The long journey gave me time to reflect on my unsuccessful half marathon training cycle and future running and race goals. At one stage last week I seriously thought about quitting running, I’d had enough of niggles and illnesses preventing me from making it to the start of my target races. It’s getting a little predictable and embarrassing. Now that I’m starting to feel better, I’m feeling slightly more positive and can’t wait to pull on my new trainers.

So a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone who has read my half marathon training updates. I’m sorry didn’t make it the start and that there won’t be a detailed review of the London Landmarks Half Marathon. I’d love to take part next year but doubt that I’d be lucky in the ballot two years in a row.

Training totals

  • Runs: 24
  • Time: 19 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 105.12 miles

Niggleometer

  • Left knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 9/10