London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 2

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

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

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

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

Tuesday – 50 mins steady Rest

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

Wednesday – Rest

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

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

Thursday – 45 mins steady Rest

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

Friday – Rest

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

Saturday – Rest

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

Sunday – 60 mins steady Rest

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

[Source]

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

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

Training totals

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

Niggleometer

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

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

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

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London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 1

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

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

Monday – 30 mins steady

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

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

Tuesday – Rest

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

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

Wednesday – 50 mins steady Rest

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

Thursday – 30 mins easy Rest

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

Friday – 25 mins brisk

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

Saturday – Rest

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

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

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable pace

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

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

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

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

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

Training totals

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

 Niggleometer

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

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

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

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

My running goals for 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Photo: Peter Heafield]

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

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

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

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

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

[Source]

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

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

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

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

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

Have you entered any target races?

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

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!

A weekend of food, fun, friends and running

Good morning, Happy Monday etc.

I hope that everyone who reads this had an awesome weekend. Mine didn’t get off to the best of starts when Wolves lost at Cardiff. I keep telling myself it’s only a game… At least I remembered to enter the Run up to Christmas virtual event.Run up to ChristmasI set my alarm for 06:30 on Saturday as I wanted to enter one of my target races for 2019. This race is known to sell out quickly, and I didn’t want to miss out due to my laziness. My approach worked and I managed to get a place. Places are transferable so if I can’t run, someone else will be able to take my place.

I looked out the window, saw that it was quite ‘hydrological’ and decided to stay at home. My local parkrun will still be there next week. As the weather was vile, I popped round to my friend’s house, and spent the morning wrapping Christmas presents and writing Christmas cards.Christmas funI *think* I’ve only got a couple more presents to buy. A good job as my next payday isn’t until just before Christmas. After paying the deposit for the work Christmas meal – yes, in typical Emma style I left organising the work Christmas meal until the last possible minute – my credit card needs a bit of a break.

After a much-needed afternoon nap, I had a quick shower, got changed and then headed to the local pub to meet Anna. We had a couple of pints and then decided to walk to Sainsbury’s. Have you ever walked around a supermarket after a few pints? I bought some really random bits and pieces and apparently tried to sing along to “Walking in the Air” when it started to play. Opps, I’m sorry Anna.Sainsburys ChristmasI didn’t treat myself to a running mug because I knew I was unlikely to get it home in one piece. They only cost £3 so I may well end up treating myself next time I’m shopping. We walked to my favourite pub – The Butlers Arms – had a couple more pints and staggered home.

Rather frustratingly I woke well before my alarm. I think I was still a little drunk from the night before. Although it was still dark and I felt terrible, I decided to get up to make a start on some slightly overdue house work. At 08:30 I got ready for my first run since Sutton Park parkrun on November 10th. I was a little concerned when I found the mile or so run to Ellen’s house really difficult.

I met up with Ellen feeling like I’d just finished a 10 mile run. It’s amazing how quickly running fitness disappears. We had a quick discussion about our running options while I removed a layer, and decided to head into the park with the aim of taking it steady, walking when we needed to and having an enjoyable run.
Sutton ParkWe ran past Little Bracebridge Pool and after a short walking break, ran across Lower and Upper Arena Fields towards the Jamboree Stone. At this stage we found ourselves on the Sutton Park parkrun route so decided to follow the route down to Longmoor Pool. I’ve included this map of the park to show where we ran, if you ever end up in Birmingham, definitely head to Sutton Park.Sutton_Park_map-1We crossed the parkrun finish line in first and second place, ran towards Banners Gate and then stopped for a breather. I must admit that at this stage I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back to where we started as I was shattered. I regretted not having breakfast. We started running again, found ourselves back on the parkrun route and headed towards Lord Donegal’s Ride and the Hill of Doom.

Hill of Doom navigated, we ran towards the Jamboree Stone and decided to stop at the ice cream van for a rest, something to drink and to take a selfie. I really need to work on my selfie posing skills 🙂
Sutton Park selfieAfter a quite lengthy rest – we remembered to pause our Garmins – we ran away from the Jamboree Stone down an incredibly steep hill towards Blackroot Pool. This was where the really energy-sapping muddy fun started. At one stage we had no idea where which was slightly concerning. Completely by chance, we found ourselves back on the path that leads to Little Bracebridge Pool. We reached the pool, realised we’d covered six miles and decided to walk the short distance back to Ellen’s.

We spent a bit of time drinking tea and coffee, eating the most amazing toast and talking about possible training plans for our next half marathons. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t really want to leave as I was enjoying the running chat so much. Thanks for a brilliant run Ellen!

The rest of my Sunday wasn’t as much fun, and the afternoon and early evening seemed to fly by far too quickly. One minute it was midday, the next it was 17:00 and I had to leave to start the long journey back to Wallingford.

I’m looking forward to more muddy running fun in Sutton Park next weekend.

Did you have a good weekend? I feel like weekends should last five days and the working week two days.

Have you entered any target races for 2019? The marathon I entered on Saturday scares me a little.

How are your Christmas preparations going? I haven’t decorated the house yet and need to buy a few more family Christmas cards but feel more organised than this time last year.

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?

Rants and Raves #30

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post while waiting for my Just Eat order to arrive. I’m feeling quite hungry so may be slightly more ranty than usual.  As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative and far, far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: The Running Community

I definitely need to start by thanking the online running community. Most of you will know I’ve been raising money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Thanks to the generosity of other runners, my fundraising total currently stands at £826. Absolutely amazing! At one stage, I was scared I’d be left donating in excess of £500 to reach my £1000 target!

720359-1004-0020sSo a huge thanks to everyone who read and commented on my training update blogs, who sponsored me, who took part in the ‘guess my time’ competition I organised. Although I’m a little gutted I no longer own a pair of Trekz Air headphones, they made a great prize and helped me raise over £250.

And let’s face it, Christmas is rapidly approaching. A runner can always dream drop a load of unsubtle hints.

Rant: eBay

A couple of weeks ago I listed a load of unwanted bits and pieces on eBay. Some items sold, others didn’t, not a problem. I didn’t relist the unsold items because I knew I wouldn’t be around to post them the following week.

I was a little surprised when I received a ‘bid received’ email on Wednesday. I opened eBay and discovered that everything that didn’t sell had been relisted. As I know I didn’t relist the unsold items myself, I did a bit of research and discovered that a lot of sellers have been having issues with eBay automatically relisting unsold items. eBay also has a trick of lowering prices until an item sells.

Rave: Sturdy by Design

The chilly weather got me researching full length running tights. I’ve mentioned the difficulty I have had finding running tights that are long enough before. I own a lot of ankle skimmers. I asked for help on Facebook, and was told to check out a brand I hadn’t heard of before; Sturdy by Design.

When I checked out their website, I discovered they have a whole section of running tights for tall runners. Amazing! I’ve pre-ordered a pair of pups leggings and have signed up to the Sturdy by Design newsletter so I can hopefully buy some paint swirl leggings. 

PS, I did a bit of googling and discovered that ‘RUN15’ gives 15% off all orders.

Rant: The Royal Parks Half Marathon

The Royal Parks Half Marathon cost a slightly eye-watering £57 (plus £3.95 postage and packaging) to enter. Yes I know it was my choice to pay that much to actually enter the race, yes I know it’s all about supply and demand etc etc

I could have just about lived with the cost had the race been better organised on the day. No runner should ever be ‘taken out’ by pedestrians walking across the course. It just shouldn’t happen, except in a real emergency. The lack of places to get changed into dry clothes after running was another letdown.

What really irritated me was the discovery the race wasn’t registered with UK Athletics. When I queried this with the organisers I eventually received the following response:

Hi Emma. We have explored the option of the event becoming a UKA race but as the race is for the benefit of charities it has been decided that the cost of achieving this licence is not in keeping with the ethos of the event. Thanks!

So is the Royal Parks Half Marathon a race or a charity fun run? Don’t the organisers care about the runners? My friend who ran a sub 1:25 time thought she’d qualified for a Championship Entry into London. It turns out she probably hasn’t because the race wasn’t registered with UK Athletics.

Rave: This Works Choose Sleep Gift Set

Don’t worry; I don’t think there’s any danger of me turning into a beauty blogger. Having said that, now I’m nearing 40, I’m starting to get concerned about my complete lack of a skincare routine. Last week, I spent a scary and quite confusing five minutes in the beauty section of my local M&S.

I recently had to spend £35 in M&S to qualify for the Beauty Advent Calendar for £35. I decided to treat myself to this Choose Sleep Gift Set and I must say I’m impressed. Although nothing will ever drown out the noise my housemates make, I have been waking up feeling a little more relaxed.

Rant: Irritating Adverts

Ok, I completely understand that WordPress are a business and therefore need to make money. I also get that the majority of websites are now plastered in adverts. However, what I don’t understand is why WordPress have added an advert to the top of my blog.

UntitledNow as soon as I scroll down, the name of my blog is completely covered up. Not ideal. So thanks WordPress, you’ve finally got me researching alternatives.

Rave: Twitter

There has been so much negatively on social media recently, I’ve cut down how time I spend on twitter et al. However, just occasionally, I see a tweet or a thread of tweets that remind me how amazing social media can be. I’m sure most of you will have read about Florence Ilott becoming the first person to run across Westminster Bridge in 1934, but just in case you missed it, here’s (hopefully) the link to the thread on twitter.  

Next time I’m in London, I’m going to see how long it takes me to run across Westminster Bridge. OK,

Rant: Asics #IMoveMe

And on the same day I read the story about the amazing Florence Ilott, I watched a video Asics shared on twitter. I don’t want to share the link to the tweet, but here’s a screenshot from the video.

IMG_2254While the use of slender young models irritated me, I’ve no idea why Asics thought filming part of the #IMoveMe video on a railway track was acceptable. I mean what a dangerous message to send out to children. What were they thinking? And no, I’m not bitter because I wasn’t selected as an Asics Frontrunner two years ago.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. After not ranting and raving since July, I hope you think my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Do you buy and sell on eBay? The site is so complicated now, I may just stick to buying!

Do you think all large races should be registered with UK Athletics? I can understand small events not wanting to pay for a UKA licence but I think that events over a certain size should have to be registered.