Saturday 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's nearly Christmas! I've been really looking forward to it this year. I've always enjoyed Christmas, but having the kids just makes you see things through their eyes. Robbie and Emma are old enough to know a bit about what to expect now, and they're so excited about tomorrow. I'm looking forward to them opening their presents too, and then going out for a little walk before an enormous, delicious lunch, followed by cake, mince pies, chocolate etc and maybe a few games before plopping down on the sofa with a drink to watch some Christmas tv, some more mince pies...

Decorating Christmas biscuits

I had a good run yesterday - 6.2 miles in strong winds, drizzle and under dark skies, it was wonderful! Although the temperatures have been pretty mild here, it felt like a nice wintry run as the wind blew right up my nose. I've run about 13/14 miles each week this month, but I'm not sure what I'll manage next week. We'll be visiting family after Christmas, so I'll be fitting the running in whenever I get the chance.

Gingerbread stars by Robbie and Emma

Hope all readers of this blog have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful new Year!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Last week's running

Last week was fairly busy. I had to fit running around my parents' visit, my birthday and a night out, Robbie's school holiday (term ended on Thursday), Pete's work night out, Pete's 2-day trip to Scotland, and an overnight stay from a friend. All things considered, I'm happy with my running!

On Monday I ran an uneventful 4 miles before my parents arrived and while Emma was at nursery. Then on Tuesday I went to my running club. It was the night of the 'Turkey Trot'. This event is an approximately 3 mile run in which everyone estimates their speed and is given a handicap. The first across the line wins a Christmas turkey, and prizes are awarded for fastest male and female. Needless to say, I did not go along for the prizes.

The race took place around the streets of the town, which meant some looking out for traffic, and some busy pavements. I set off with 2 other women who estimated their times as similar to mine. However, once we started, one of them (B), went off like a rocket! The other woman (A), with whom I often run and who I know is about the same speed as me, went with B, and soon the pair of them were running at under 7min/mile pace. Well I knew this was no good for me. I didn't want to completely blow up, so I let them go. I was running much harder than I would have liked, but I wasn't prepared to overdo it by so much.

They zoomed off, and after a while, other runners started catching me and overtaking. I think a lot of runners underestimated their ability, and I'll know to be more cautious next year! Anyway, I kept running fast, and after the first 1.5 miles, I started to catch them up. I could see that A was started to flag, as I had expected her to, and I overtook her at around 2miles. Then I could see B
just in front of me. I pushed hard, but suddenly we had reached the end of the race. I hadn't really known where it was, and it was only about 2.7m, according to my Garmin.

I wished I had realised where the finish was as I think I could have taken B as well! However, it was only for fun, and in the end my time was 5 seconds behind her, so not too bad. It was a really enjoyable event, and very sociable.

On Wednesday morning I went for a birthday run of 3miles, as I knew I would be busy for the next few days. That's the first time I've run on 3 consecutive days for a while! I didn't get a chance to leave the kids for a run until Sunday, when I had a very enjoyable 4m run round the housing estates nearby.

So in total I managed 4 runs and a total of 14.4 miles. Not bad. This week I might be too busy making and eating mince pies and biscuits, never mind the fact that the kids are both on holiday. My goal for now is to run just enough not to put on too much weight!

Homemade and delicious!

Friday 16 December 2011

Another year older...

It was my birthday on Wednesday! My parents were here for most of the week, and after taking Robbie to school, I went for a little run while Mum and Dad looked after Emma. It was a great way to start the day, especially as I knew I was going to be doing a lot of eating later on.

We went out for lunch and I had a really tasty burger and chips. I was trying not to eat too much as I was going out for dinner too, but I did have pudding (naturally), and ended up feeling really stuffed. After picking Robbie up from school, I got glammed up (more than usual anyway), and caught the train into Brighton to meet Pete.

With Emma in the restaurant

The weather was horrendous, and as it was pouring with rain and hail, we decided to head for the cinema. First though, we stopped off in a pub for a couple of huge vodka and tonics - a drink we both used to enjoy about 15 years ago when we first met but hardly ever drink nowadays! It was lovely.

We saw 'My week with Marilyn' which was really good. Kenneth Branagh was hilarious and Michelle Williams was amazing as Marilyn Monroe. Before we had children we used to go to the cinema 2 or 3 times a month, and now we go about once or twice a year. Whenever we get the opportunity of a babysitter, it's usually our first choice for what to do.

After the film we went to a little Spanish restaurant. It was a tiny place with just a few wooden tables and one (really good) waitress. We ate tapas and the food was just like what we used to eat when we lived in Spain, it was lovely and very nostalgic.

So as I reach the very end of my thirties, I wonder what should be on my 'list-of-things-to-do-before-I-turn-40'. I'd definitely like to get a few more PBs! I wonder when I'll get to the age of slowing down, rather than speeding up? As I only started running a few years ago, I still think I can get faster, but I sometimes feel as though I'm past it already! I know that Paula Radcliffe will be aiming to win the Olympic marathon next year, and she's only 1 year younger than me. In fact, Constantina Dita won the Olympic marathon in 2008 at the age of 38, so I can't really use age as an excuse...

A delicious gift

Monday 12 December 2011

Last week

The Good:
  • I started the week on a high after my PB race on Saturday!
  • I had a great run on Wednesday evening. It was about 5k, and I ran about 4 mins slower (!) than my new PB, but I really, really enjoyed being out there.
  • The sun came out for a lovely bike ride along the cycle path on Friday afternoon.
  • I ran 5 miles on Saturday night with a fantastic view of the moon, huge, low, and yellow. It was another really enjoyable run, and ended up being pretty fast too (44m45s).
  • I picked up my dumbbells and then repeated a few times for the first time in months.
  • I am LOVING running in the cold weather. It's keeping me warm and preventing the winter blues!

Sunny bike ride in the country

The Not-so-good:
  • I tried a run on Monday morning which totalled 1 mile as I had an unexplained backache and I gave up and walked home.
  • I ran with the club on Tuesday, and while it was nice to run with others, I really hated the hill session we did. Every time we reached the top of the hill, the wind smacked into us...urgh...
So the good far outweighs the not-so-good!

Ran 13.4miles
Cycled 10.6miles

New landmark on the cycle path!

Thursday 8 December 2011

November rundown

Well November was not a bad month, despite a few days of illness which stopped me working out for almost a full week. Surprisingly I managed to fit in the same number of runs as in October, although I did a lot less cycling to make time for that.

Ran 13x = 52.7 miles
Cycled 3x = 30.3 miles

That's only 5 miles fewer than I ran in October, which means I'm still doing a lot better than the rest of 2011. I didn't cycle as much as I would have liked, partly becuase I wanted to run more, and partly because of a couple of trips Christmas shopping which took priority when I had child-free time on my hands!

I'm quite happy with what I did last month though - I increased my long run to 8 miles (my furthest run in 2011), I focused on speeding up on shorter runs, I did a couple of really good sessions with the local club, and I found more picturesque routes for cycling. Interestingly I did all my long runs on Monday mornings (when Emma is at nursery), and only ran once on a weekend day! That was because we were away every weekend - I didn't spend one Saturday night in my own home throughout the month!

I haven't got any races planned in December, so I'm really focussing on maximising the enjoyment of running. I don't feel the need to do any tough running sessions like long runs or speedy sprints, I just want to revel in being out there in the cold, feeling fit, healthy, uninjured (fingers crossed) and lucky to be running.

No doubt various Christmas events will be getting in the way all month, but I'm going to fit in what I can. Speaking of which, this week we've already enjoyed a school nativity play:

Shepherd 1

..and Emma's little performance at dancing class:

Bring on the festivities!

Monday 5 December 2011

Christmas Cracker Chase 5k

If you are seeking advice about getting a PB at 5K, do as I say rather than as I did on Saturday. For example:

1. Don't choose a race date the morning after your husband has a big work party, coming home at 1.30am and waking you up.

2. Similarly, avoid a time when your husband has a cold and snores all night, keeping you awake so you end up downstairs on the sofa.

3. Don't choose a race route along the seafront on a windy day as there will be no shelter from that headwind for the first 2.5k.

4. Don't eat an enormous bowl of pasta and whole bag of choclate raisins the night before. It's not a marathon, you don't need to carb-load, and you will need to find a toilet in the morning just before the race.

5. Do press the on button on your Garmin efficiently at the start of the race. This will help you discern your speed, how far there is to go, and whether you are on course for a PB or not.

6. Do position yourself at the start so you can hear when the race has started, rather than coming to a gradual realisation when people in front of you start jogging.

Despite all these basic errors, I got my PB! So what do I know about race preparation...

Anyway, it was really cold when we arrived at the start of the race. I bravely removed my jacket as I knew I'd get hot with running, and I'm glad I did - the sun even came out towards the end. I stood fairly near the front, but I didn't hear the race start, and as people started moving off, I relaised that I should have got right at the front. I had to run around a lot of fun-runners straightaway.

After less than a minute I looked at my Garmin and realised it was even later to the party - I had missed hitting the start button somehow. I switched it on, and tried to cope with the horror of not being able to measure my progress exactly. It turned out that I had only missed 0.1 miles though, so it wasn't too bad. When my first mile beeped, I looked down and I had run 8m12s. I knew I needed to be averaging under 8 min miles so I was a bit disheartened when I saw that.

There was a 10k at the same time, and all the runners ran 2.5k together, until we turned and headed back to the start to finish the race, while the 10k-ers continued further along the seafront. So for the first part of the race I was trying to keep up with and catch certain runners, and then I remembered that most of them would disappear at the turn anyway, and so it proved. We ran into a fairly strong headwind to the turn, but all the way back it felt a lot better!

For the rest of the race I was completely on my own. No-one caught me and the runners in front of me were about 1 minute away, so it was down to me to motivate myself. I did have the back of the pack coming towards me now though, and there was a 'last runner' marshal who told me I was about 8th. That made me feel great!

All the way back I couldn't see where the finish was, and I kept seeing landmarks and thinking 'nearly there', and it wasn't at all. I didn't know how much I'd missed on the Garmin, so I couldn't tell how far I had to go. The last part of that last mile was really tough. I just kept telling myself how gutted I'd be if I gave up, and how great I'd feel if I got under my PB.

Eventually I saw Pete and the kids at the side of the path, and the finish just behind them. they were all clapping away, and Robbie and Emma came to join me and run the last part with me. It was lovely, until I suddenly noticed I wasn't running as fast as I could! I'd slowed down a bit to run with them! As any good athlete would, I gasped an apology and kicked for the finish line.

I stopped my Garmin, which said 3 miles in 23m49s, so I thought I'd probably done enough but I didn't know for sure. I collected my memento coaster, a cracker, and a mince pie along with a drink. Then we went for a huge lovely cup of coffee.

I spent the rest of the day checking the website for the official results. Finally they were posted in the evening, and I saw that I was officially 8th position out of 63 women with a PB of 24m31s!! My Garmin stats were as follows:
Mile 1: 8m12s
Mile 2: 7m49s
Mile 3: 7m47s
I am not used to those sub-8 min miles!

I was so excited for the rest of the weekend! I knew I could get close, but I wasn't sure how much faster I could go. Now I think I could go faster without the wind and with a better start etc, but I won't be going for it yet. It was a really good event and one I'd hope to do again.

Saturday 3 December 2011


Nailed it! Despite strong winds by the sea, I ran a PB of 24m31s this morning - 20 seconds off of my previous PB! So pleased with this time, and I finished 8th out of about 60 runners - Yay me!!!

Wednesday 30 November 2011

The need for speed

So I am signed up for a 5k this Saturday!

The last 5k race I did was Edinburgh Parkrun on 23rd April, when my time was a modest 26m29s. I am really hoping to beat this on Saturday - (in fact I beat it a few minutes ago when I went out for a test run!). That Parkrun race was a comeback from all those months of non-running and heel pain injury, so I was pleased with the time, but now I want to get closer to my PB.

I think it was in October 2009 when I ran my fastest 5k (also Edinburgh Parkrun) in 24m50s. That was a pretty long time ago, and obviously I lost a lot of fitness while not running much between Sept 2010 and March 2011. Now I feel that I'm getting back to full running fitness, so I'd really like to run something close to that PB.

This means I need to be running around 7.59 min miles, which seems absurdly fast. However, I must have done it once, I suppose. I tried a fast 5k last weekend and it was a disaster - I ended up stopping after 2 miles. But I've just run 5k with the aim of a fast but comfortable 1st and 3rd mile and a fast as possible 2nd mile. I pressed the off button on the Garmin at 26m15s - the fastest 5k I've run since 5th July!

Now I ran fairly hard just now, but I had enough held back to speed up at the end and finish strong. When I came through the front door, I was breathing heavily, but not about to collapse or puke, which was how I felt when I got my PB. This indicates that I could go quite a bit faster!

Of course it'll all depend on the day - the race is in a town I've never visited, so I don't know whether the course will be hilly or crowded, and if there is more of this windy weather we've had, then I don't fancy my chances. But my goal for Saturday is to get close to 25 minutes, and my super-goal, if all conditions are perfect, is to get near that PB from the old, pre-plantar fasciitis days!

Monday 28 November 2011

Busy busy

Wow, it has been a while since my last post! I've just been finding it really difficult to make the time for blogging in the last week or so. Partly because for the last fortnight I've been busy reading this:

- all 650 pages of it. I enjoyed it, but the writing was small too, and it took me a long time to get through it. I'll definitely read the sequel when it's published though.

So anyway, I think our family is always ill around this time of year, and 2011 has been no exception. Since having a weird illness a couple of weeks ago, I've just been feeling exhausted, and the kids and Pete have all had their share of coughs and colds recently. However, I am definitely feeling better now, and hopefully the constant stream of green from Robbie's nose will be gone soon (yuck!).

Last week I got back to a good week's running. I started with a 7 mile run on Monday. This was a mile down on my last long run, but I'd had a week off due to being unwell, so I thought I'd play it safe and not push too hard. It felt comfortable and enjoyable, at 9.30min/mile pace. That seems to be about my favoured speed for longer runs.

On Tuesday I had planned a bike ride in the afternoon, but somehow it didn't happen. Having been away for the weekend, I had a lot of washing and cleaning the house to catch up on, but cycling's loss was running's gain, as I went for a run in the evening instead. It was just a short one, and my Garmin refused to pick up a satellite, but I'm sure it was at least 3 miles.

On Thursday it was a good session at the club, where we ran figures of 8 round the houses - 1 loop hard followed by 1 loop recovery. With warm-up jog there and back, it ended up as 5.5 miles. I was with 3 other women and we turned out to be a good match for each other, which was really helpful for keeping me going!

On Friday I fitted in a 10m cycle, which was all around fields and farms - a route I'll definitely take again. Then I ran a fast 5k on Saturday morning. It didn't go too well though as I felt great for the first half, then turned around and realised that I had been benefitting from a tail-wind which was now against me. It was really tough, and I was tired, and I ended up stopping to catch my breath after 2 miles. I only walked for a minute or so, then completed the run, but it was still pretty fast (for me) - 26m29s for 5k - which indicates that prehaps I went too fast at the start.

Next weekend I have signed up for a 5k race! It's Ladies only, and there are a few walkers taking part, so I'm hoping to be near the front of the field for once! So I'm not sure how I'll train this week - not too big a mileage, and a couple of days taper maybe.

Last week I ran 18.6 miles, which is half a mile further than my previous biggest week of 2011! It will be less this week, but hopefully faster...

Thursday 17 November 2011

Strange week

I have been strangely ill this week. Yes I know it was only the week before last that I had a little bug and took some days off, but here we are again.

On Saturday I had a bit of a headache, which I put down to red wine on Friday night. On Sunday I had a really bad headache and felt shivery and achey. On Monday Pete had to stay home from work to look after the kids, and I spent the whole day in bed. Whenever I got up my head pounded and I felt dizzy. On Tuesday I threw up before I'd eaten anything, but then felt quite a bit better.

Now I'm feeling almost back to normal, but I just can't get enough sleep, and I'm still getting little headaches. I don't know what it is.

So all this has meant I've done sod all exercise all week. Last week was ok though - up until Friday at least. I ran 8 miles on Monday! I was really happy with my longest run yet this year, and I kept my pace nice and steady (9.27 min/miles ) so it didn't hurt too much.

On Tuesday evening I went out for a 3-mile recovery run, and my legs were obviously feeling it as this turned out to be at 9.37 pace - slower than the 8-miler!

On Thursday I ran with the local group, and we did 400 metre repeats - 4 x 400m with 1 min recovery between each, then a jog round the block. We did this set 3 times, which totalled 12 repeats of 400m! It was hard-going. I ran with 2 women who I felt were both a bit faster than me and I had to keep pushing myself to keep up.

Then on Friday I cycled 10 miles against the wind, so that was quite slow too. Given that I didn't run or cycle at the weekend, I was pleased with 16.2 miles running mileage.

So I might try a little jog tomorrow, and then we're away all weekend, so I might just start again next week. Thank God I haven't got a half marathon or other long race planned - I can do what I want really!

Monday 7 November 2011

A few days off

In my last post I was excited about running my highest mileage week of 2011, but I mentioned that I might make the following week a bit of a break. It certainly turned out that way.

I knew I wouldn't be able to fit a run in as I was travelling and staying at a friend's all weekend, but I planned to run on Tuesday and Thursday, as well as a bike ride on Monday. In fact by Thursday evening I felt quite under the weather, with a headache and lots of aching muscles all over. I also had a really sore throat, so I think I'd caught some nasty little bug. I decided to stay home on Thursday and not risk the run.

So after my big mileage week, I managed a really tiny one! I ran 3.6 miles on Tuesday, (which included my fastest 5k since 14th September!). Thank goodness I am anal enough to keep such detailed records. I also has a really good bike ride on Monday. It was 11 miles on country roads and cycle path.

And that was that. I had an exercise free period from Weds to Sunday, so look out November - I'm rested, I'm ready and I'm going to be building that mileage up again!

Sunday 30 October 2011

October stats

So October was the month in which I got rid of my insoles, ran my longest runs since September 2010, and increased my weekly mileage at last.

Last week was half-term school holiday, and I took the kids to my parents' for a few days. Being away meant I couldn't use my bike, but I did run there twice - a couple of nice 3-milers. We came back on Thursday, and I ran again with the local group. It was a hill session, which involved running hard up a short but steep hill 10 times, with recovery between each one. On the last hill I ran as hard a I could. It was really tough, but I felt great afterwards.

But on Friday I started to get a pain in my backside, and after walking around town with the kids and then around the supermarket, I was experiencing a lot of bum discomfort! It was my sciatic nerve, which often gets irritated, but this was worse than usual. I tried rolling around on a tennis ball and using my foam roller, and they really helped, but it was still sore on Saturday, so I went for a bike ride instead of a run. I found another route through some beautiful countryside and the autumn leaves were looking great.

Today I finally found time for my long run, and pounded out a tough 7.4 miles. It was windy, the route was very undulating and I hadn't had enough sleep, and I found the last couple of miles hard-going. My bum felt ok though, and afterwards I felt fantastic! I was so pleased to have run another longer-than-last-week run.

Afterwards Pete and I also went for a walk with the kids. We wandered along the South Downs, stopped for a picnic, and tried to admire the view in spite of cloudy, overcast weather. It was really great though.

Windy at the top of the hill!

This week I only cycled 9.1 miles, but I ran 18.1 miles - presumably a record for 2011 - yay!

Stats for October:

Ran - 13x - 57.1 miles
Cycled - 6x - 61.8 miles.

Pretty good for 2011. I'll probably go out on my bike tomorrow, which is still technically October, but it feels like the end of the month today. Next weekend I'm going away, so I'm not sure where I'll fit in a long run - I might not. I may just make it a 'cutback' week, and aim for a long run over 8 miles the following week. I'm not training for anything, so it doesn't matter too much - there's no rush!

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Last week

It's half term in England this week, which finds me at my parents' house for a few days with the kids. One of the reasons we wanted to move from Scotland to England was so that we could travel more easily to see our families, and I am putting this into practice now! So far since arriving on Sunday I've enjoyed some shopping, quite a bit of reading, an evening in the pub with old school-friends, good sleep and one run. It's good to recharge the batteries a bit.

Last week Emma's nursery took an extra day's holiday, which got in the way of my usual bike ride on Friday. I also got a bit of a cold, and felt pretty rough over the weekend, so I missed a planned run.

However, last Monday I had an excellent run! I increased my long run from the previous week, and did 7.2 miles. Incredibly, this is the furthest I have run since 19th September 2010 (the Great North Run I hobbled with a bad foot). It was great to up my mileage at last, and I really enjoyed the run.

After that I had a great 13 mile bike ride on Tuesday, and then I ran with the local group on Thursday evening. That turned out to be a Paarlauf session - something I'd never tried (or indeed heard of) before. Basically each runner is paired up with someone of a similar ability, and you take it in turns to run loops. So my partner ran a hard loop round the block, then tagged me and I ran a similar loop. While she was running, I was jogging back to my starting point as recovery.

It was quite hard. I ran each lap with 3 others, and my partner and I started at the back of each pack. Then I had a burst of energy in the middle, and overtook into second position. We maintained that for most of the session but I flagged badly on the last few laps and was a distant last by the final lap! It was good fun to do something new, and made me push myself.

And that was it for the week, so only 2 runs and 1 bike ride due to circumstances beyond my control. I was pleased to have increased my long run at last though, and I hope to go longer again this week!

Friday 21 October 2011

Change of seasons

All of a sudden it's definitely autumn and summer is gone. In a very short space of time, the temperature has plummeted by about 10 degrees C and I've had to change my running and cycling wardrobe. Just a couple of weeks ago we were walking round in t-shirts, and then yesterday morning I had to scrape the ice off the car before I did the school run! It's been a bit of a shock to the system.

An autumnal trail

Last night I went to my running group. I thought I'd better not go overboard with winter clothing as it's only October, so I wore capris, a t-shirt with medium length sleeves and a sleeveless jacket. When I arrived I was pretty cold, and observed that I was one of the least warmly-dressed of the runners. Some people were in hoodies, jogging bottoms and gloves. Considering I am the sort of person who always feels the cold and wants to switch the heating on immediately at the end of summer, I wondered if I had overdone the hardiness and underdone the warm clothing. However, as soon as we were running of course I was fine, and warmed up really quickly.

I was also perturbed to see that it was a very small group last night, and others were discussing how numbers tend to drop off in cold weather. I can understand being put off by heavy rain, but running is such a great way to keep warm when it's cold! Why wouldn't you move your body and get sweaty to warm up and deal with winter blues?

I love a crisp, cold, winter's day run, and as all you runners know, there's not much that a woolly hat, gloves and plenty of layers can't cope with. There is a saying I like that goes 'Champions are made in the winter', which refers to all the training that elite athletes do in the dark, cold months before the major marathons and other events of spring. I first heard that when I was training for my marathon in May 2010 - it inspired me when I was plodding through snow-covered streets on dark, chilly mornings in January and February.

Of course a change in temperature also means that you have to go shopping for more running kit - yay! I can't wait to get stuck into some winter running.

Crunchy autumn leaves

Monday 17 October 2011

Weekly round up

My plan to increase my mileage has been put into action at last! I just cannot believe it's been over a year since I ran anything over 10k - curse my plantar fascia!

I decided to do my long run on Monday, as I had some free time while Emma was at nursery, and I wanted to get stuck in at the start of the week. It was a really nice run of 6.2 miles. Ok, so I still haven't gone further than 10k, but I'm building up to it! I tried to keep my pace comfortable, and ran over 9 mins for each mile, but miles 4 and 5 were the fastest - I think I turned around and ran on a slight downhill incline there. So although it felt fairly easy, it ended up being 20 seconds faster than the 10k race I did last month! This was obviously down to the flatter route and cooler conditions. My average pace was 9.09 min/miles.

I ran on the cycle path and bridleway, which is such a great route. It's quiet, away from traffic, mostly flat and nice to look at. I had to turn round and come back the same way, rather than do a loop, but as it was slightly more downhill on the way back, I didn't mind.

On Wednesday I couldn't help but run faster, and I did a nice 5k in the dark at 8.35 min/mile pace. I didn't get to running club this week as Pete was away, but I did run just over 4 miles on Saturday. So I stuck to my cautious, careful plan of running 3 times and leaving a full day between each run. I also had two nice bike rides.

Since we moved here, I've been so lucky with the weather. I've only run in the rain once, and never had to get wet on the bike or cycle through mud. Long may that continue. (Er, it's raining as I write this though).

So my total miles were:
Ran: 13.6 miles
Cycled: 19.3 miles.

I just hope I can keep running longer without getting injured again...

Friday 14 October 2011

Out with the insoles

Long-time followers with good memories may remember that after my fun times with Plantar Faciitis started last September (that's September 2010), my Physio prescribed a fetching pair of orthotics. They were quite uncomfortable at first, but I gradually got used to them and have been running with them in my trainers ever since.

However, a few runs ago I decided to try a run without them. So far, there hasn't been any sudden resurgence of strong heel pain, and I have now run maybe 3 or 4 times without the insoles.

There were a few reasons why I decided to try running without them. The main one was that in the last few weeks, I've been getting a few unusual pains in the foot, particularly after a longer run. I started noticing some discomfort around the ball of my foot, and I just had a feeling that this was being caused by the distorting shape of the orthotics. I haven't had any more of those pains since I removed them.

Secondly, I know when I started using them that a lot of people weren't sure it was the best way to go. From comments on my blog, reading other people's blogs and a few conversations with runners, I was prompted to spend a lot of time thinking about the whole debate over increased padding and protection (insoles and supportive trainers) v. minimalist running (barefeet). I'm still not sure what I think about all this, but I do think there's only so much support your feet can take before you lose the ability to run in a natural way.

Thirdly, it's coming up to a year since I first started using them, and the Physio said that they should be replaced after a year. So I might as well try running without them.

Finally, I've never really been convinced that they did any good anyway. The process of getting back into running was a long gradual one with many false starts. I still feel pain in my heel (allbeit on a much smaller scale than this time last year), and there was no one solution to the problem - certainly not the addition of orthotics.

I haven't thrown them away, they are under the bed so if needs be I can always put them back in again. But my plan for now is to take things sensibly and carefully - I know, really boring - but I'm going to stick to 3 runs a week for now, no running on consecutive days, and a gradual steady increase in mileage each week.

Luckily I've found some fantastic paths and trails to run and cycle on near my new home, so upping the mileage should be enjoyable...

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Easy running

Last week I posted that I would hopefully be going for a run with the local group on Thursday despite a little ankle pain. In fact, Pete wasn't home in time, so I decided to run on my own anyway. It was dark, so I thought I'd stick to residential streets which were more likely to be well-lit. I had a vague plan of where to run, but as I don't know the local area well-enough yet, I was prepared to divert away from dark roads.

I decided to do something a bit different from my usual runs. As it was 7.30pm, and I didn't have time for a long run, I would normally run about 3 miles (probably 3.1 just to make it 5k), and aim to go as fast as I could. In fact all my running recently has been based around going as fast as I can, and if my pace is significantly over 9 min/miles, I'm not happy. But on Thursday I thought 'What if I try and run slower? Maybe it'll help when I go longer?'

So I went for an easy, comfortable pace. It was a revelation! It was just soooo enjoyable! I ended up going a different way than I had planned, and had a good explore around an area I haven't been to before. Although it was dark, I investigated the sight of the town (a windmill!) and I felt so comfortable the whole time, I could have gone a lot further.

When I first started running and struggled to keep going for 5 minutes, I never could have imagined that I could find it so relaxing and comfortable.

I only ran 4 miles because it was late and I hadn't had dinner, so for the last mile, I decided to speed up and see how fast I could get home. My mile splits were like this: 9.30; 9.42; 9.43; 8.28.

I definitely plan to include more slow running, especially when I'm building my distance back up again. I need to look at the Garmin less and not worry about trying to run faster than 9min/miles for every mile. Why do I obsess over that all the time? Ridiculous. I can't overstate how much I enjoyed that run! (The ankle pain was ok, by the way).

Anyway, apart from that, it wasn't much of a high mileage week:
Ran: 10.3 miles
Cycled: 20.3 miles

We had my sister and her family to visit at the weekend, and ate loads of crap food, got through a few bottles of wine and stayed up too late, so I was impressed that I managed any sort of run at all on Sunday. I could only face 3 miles, hence no long run last week. More mileage to come this week!

Our very own tourist attraction

Thursday 6 October 2011

Saying no

Since we moved, I've really enjoyed going to the local running group. As I don't know anyone round here, and often don't speak to another adult during the day when Pete's at work, it's great for social reasons as well as to improve my running. Training is held twice a week, and while I have managed to attend 3 weeks in a row, I've only been once a week. This is because Pete's been working long hours and has been making a special effort to get home early once a week. So while I've attended 3 Thursdays, I've never been on a Tuesday.

Then this Tuesday, I was getting the kids' dinner ready when Pete called and said he was on his way back, and did I want to go. I hadn't expected that, and it meant I would have to rush the kids' dinner and bath, but I knew that was worth it for a run. I'd also been for a 10-mile bike ride that afternoon, and my legs were tired, but I knew I would be able to run well enough. I was about to say yes, when I suddenly remembered - a niggle I probably shouldn't ignore.

Since running last weekend, I've had a pain in my left shin, just above the ankle. It's something that happened gradually, but on Monday's run I noticed it quite clearly. It's fine most of the time, but hurts when I put my foot down with impact.

So with reluctance, I did the sensible thing - I said no. I'm sure many of you know how difficult this was. Particularly when I'm struggling to find the time to get out for a run, it's very hard to turn down the opportunity. I probably could have run with the pain and not felt it too much, but it might have exacerbated the injury.

Anyway, I congratulated myself on being so wise, and had a complete rest day yesterday. I massaged the sore area, but that seems to have made it worse! It's very tender to the touch as well now. I put ice on it last night and sat with my leg up on the sofa, but the pain is still there when I run.

So assuming that Pete makes it on time tonight (and he's gone up to London today, so has further to travel), I will definitely be saying yes to tonight's run. I've tried the sensible route, and I'm not missing out again! Maybe it's one of those little niggles that responds to exercise? I think it's feeling a bit better anyway... yes I can think of lots of justification for why I should run tonight!

At least I am balancing out the running with plenty of cross-training, thank goodness for my new bike.

Monday 3 October 2011


There's a title I never thought I'd use for a post. The weather in the UK last week was record-breakingly hot. It was glorious sunshine all week, culminating in temperatures around 29 degrees Celsius at the weekend. Fantastic, I love it, as long as I don't have to work in it.

After last weekend's 10k race, I had a few days off. I was achey on Monday, then it was Robbie's birthday on Tuesday so we were celebrating him turning 6. 6!!! Unbelievable. I finally ran on Thursday, with the local running group again. This was my 3rd time there, and we ran figures of eight, with one loop run hard, followed by a loop of recovery. We did this 8 times, and I felt that I was running pretty well. No doubt a few days off did me good. On Friday I enjoyed a really good 10m cycle in the sun, and on Saturday morning, I did an exploring run, where I ended up running over the bumps of a BMX track. This was not intentional, not much fun, and I won't be venturing down that path again.

As for the month of September, it turned out to be the month of getting back into a routine. After the chaos of August, (i.e.moving house), I stepped up the running, did only my second race of 2011, and bought a new bike!

In total I ran 12 times, equalling 49.4miles; and cycled 5 times which made 40.7 miles. Great!

Injuries and illness permitting - I seem to get constant niggles in my feet and I've got a cough and sore throat today - I would like to keep up the number of times I'm running and cycling each week, and increase the running distance to include a long run each week. I haven't run much over 6 miles since September LAST YEAR when the plantar fasciitis first hit, so I'd love to be able to run 10, then 13 or so miles without injury. I'll be taking it steady though - any heel pain and I'll attend to it straight away!

Robbie and his cake

Sunday 25 September 2011

The Big 10k

Well today was my second race of the year and my 4th 10k ever. In my previous post I related how I have struggled with this distance in the past, but I felt that I ran ok today (in spite of my time...).

It was a very hot sunny morning and the race - The Big 10K - takes place in Bexhill-on-sea and is all along the seafront. It was a lovely route with fantastic views across the Channel taking in beaches, cliffs and little boats out to sea. However, while the race is advertised as a fast, flat course, there was a last minute change due to unexpected road works. This meant that we had to do 2 times a 5k loop, and this loop contained a nasty little hill.

It was a small hill, but steep, and you had to run up, then down, then turn round and back up and down. As the loop was then repeated, this meant 4 steep hills instead of the planned 2. Anyway, it wasn't too bad (and let's face it, after Scotland I am used to hills). The bigger problem was the sunshine.

It was a glorious day, but there was not one spot of shade, and very little wind, and it was just roasting! There were a few drink stations but I didn't dare to take any water as I didn't want to get a stitch, even though I soon felt quite dehydrated.

Anyway, my first mile was ridiculous (8m47s), but it was slightly downhill, and I just can't help but get caught up at the start of a race. The next 4 miles were all well over 9 mins, with an exceptional 5th mile of 9m41s - I was suffering by then! My last mile though was 8m58s - I had held something back at least.

As I got to the finish line, I felt so hot, exhausted and a bit sick, and for the first time ever, I slowed down almost to a walk as I crossed the finish line. I usually try and sprint towards the end (although I often feel as though I'm sprinting only to watch a video later of a tired me plodding slowly). Today, it was just too hot.

I hit the button on my Garmin at 57m16s, giving me an average pace of 9m10s. I know I said I was aiming for 56 mins (and if I'm honest, I'm always secretly hoping for a PB), but I think a flatter course on a cloudy day would have got me that.

Looking back at my Garmin data, I see I hadn't run over 6 miles since 3rd June, and before that not since September last year when I got injured! So taking that into account, I'm fine with the time. I've got something to improve on now.

Plus it was great fun to do a race again. Even better though was the kids' race at the start. Robbie and Emma did the 500 metre race and it was brilliant! Their first race and they really enjoyed it. I was amazed as the race started and within about 10 seconds, Robbie had run off - he's not at all competitive, and more likely to wait for Emma than think to run fast, but today he really surprised me. It was great to see him go for it - Pete said most of the kids in front of him were aged about 8 or older, and he's only 6, so I think he did ok.

As for Emma, I ran along side her, and she just kept going. We were almost at the back as she was one of the youngest, but she ran the whole thing and never gave up or complained. As we came towards the finish, she started waving to the crowd - it was hilarious, and as there was no-one else around us, they were all clapping and cheering her on!

I wish there were more childrens' events like this with adult races - it was such a nice atmosphere and a great thing for them to take part in.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Me versus 10K

On Sunday evening I was half-watching a crappy film on tv, when I decided to browse the internet for what local races were coming up. I thought I could see whether there might be a 5k or 10k in about November or something that I might try... anyway, I ended up registering for a 10k next Sunday! I didn't really mean to, but it's only about 12 miles away, and it's along the seafront, so hopefully fairly flat. I've only done two races so far in 2011, so I just couldn't help myself.

As I went for a preparatory 5 mile run on Monday, I started thinking about my history of 10ks. I've done 3 before now, and none of them has gone particularly well.

The first 10k I did was my second ever race. I had done a 5k in June 2008, and couldn't really believe that I could keep running for over 6 miles in one go. But I signed up for the Great Edinburgh Run in May 2009. It's quite a big race, and was televised. I started off too fast, and probably overdid it on some of the downhills (it's very hilly). Just before 6k, I got a stitch, and had to stop and walk for a while. But I made it to the finish line in 62 minutes, which I was happy with.


Then 6 months later I did my next 10k. By then I had joined a running group, and was running a lot more regularly and with a focus. The 'Run with the wind' event had competitors meet at a school, then we were all ferried up a hill in some coaches, and the race was run down the hill back to the school. Although the course had some uphills too, it was down overall, and the first 2 kilometres were basically a case of falling down a small mountain. It was pouring with rain, so I wanted to get it over with quickly, and I ran with a friend who was faster than me. By 5k, I had to stop and walk - I had a stitch again, and I was exhausted. I started running at a more appropriate pace soon, and still managed to bag a huge PB of just under 55mins - still my best time at this distance.


The following year I concentrated on the marathon, and then eventually got injured and out of action. My 'comeback' race after all the heel pain was the trail race I did last June. It was supposed to be a 10k, but turned out to be a 9.3k. It went ok, but I was a bit disappointed that it was short, and I found the trail a lot tougher than road. Again I had to walk up a particularly steep hill. Having said all that, I really enjoyed it.


My main problem with 10ks seems to be that I start off too fast and get a stitch halfway through. I'm not expecting a PB on Sunday, as I've barely run over 3 miles since that trail race, but my 5k pace has been fairly good recently. I'm hoping to enjoy a new race in a new town, and not have to walk in the middle of it, and aim to be somewhere around 56 mins. I can't wait to find out what kind of souvenir there'll be...

Sunday 18 September 2011


So as many of you noticed in my last post, I have bought a bike! I bid for it on ebay, and won it for a bargain price of £32. I had to drive just over 50 miles round trip to pick it up, but I still think it was a good deal.

So on Tuesday I went for a little ride to check it out, and to also explore the local cycle paths. As sson as I started cycling, I realised that the saddle was too low, so I didn't go too far as my legs felt quite uncomfortable. Pete helped me raise the saddle later, and on Friday I managed a longer ride.

This time it felt great. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and I just followed the cycle path signs. It was great. Everything was so clearly signed. In Scotland, our local cycle path was very badly signed, so if you didn't know where you were going, you would just suddenly come to a dead end. Here though, it is difficult to get lost. I had no idea where I was going, but every turn and junction was marked so I didn't have a problem. I can't wait to explore more of the fantastic network of paths round here.

On the way home, I had a craving for chocolate milk, and I knew there was none at home. So I took a small diversion to the local supermarket, bought a bottle, and wedged it in my brilliant bottle holder that came on the bike. What a great feature!

As for running, it was a really good week! On Wednesday morning I ran my fastest 5k for a while - 26m37s. This was an average pace of 8m35s per mile - a huge improvement on my recent times around 9 min miles. I must admit though, it's a lot flatter than my usual route in Scotland!

Then on Thursday evening, Pete managed to get home from work on time for once, and I went to try a local running club. It was great - we did a hill session, which I always enjoy, and it was very friendly. As usual, I found that running with others made me push myself more than on my own, and I really attacked the hills. I definitely want to go regularly, but as Pete is working long hours at the moment, I probably won't be able to go for a few weeks. Hopefully his new job will settle down soon...

On Saturday I had a plan - I wanted to run at a slower pace and do about 5 miles. We were going away on Saturday night and I knew it would be hard to fit a run in on Sunday. So I set off at about 9am, and tried to keep my pace around 9min miles. It started off sunny, but I soon got soaked in two heavy showers. Anyway, I did what I wanted - 5.1 miles at 9m08s average pace. I was really happy with that.

I'm looking forward to exploring more in the next few days on the bike and on foot, and adding to my distances as well.

Wednesday 14 September 2011


Hooray for E-bay!

Monday 12 September 2011

Settling in

So I've finally been getting some running done! When I looked back at my running diary and the calendar on the Garmin, I couldn't believe how long it had been since I'd been running regularly. Basically, ages. I ran 4 times in the first week of July, and then had a bad cough and cold. I didn't run again until 31st July, when I barely managed to complete 1 mile! After that my running was very sporadic, and whenever I did get out I struggled with both distance and speed.

But since we moved, I've been running a bit more, and my speed has definitely been improving.

Last week we got stuck into a new routine as Robbie started school and Emma nursery. I managed to run 4 times, about 3 miles each time, but also including a great 4 mile run on Friday. It was really hot and humid, but I felt good, and averaged 8.53min/miles, which is definitely an improvement on previous weeks. As you can see, I was very red and sweaty after that run.

This week I am hoping to try a local running club, which is as much to meet people as anything. I've also just bought a bike! Since mine was stolen before we moved, I've really been missing it, especially as there are a lot of cycle routes around here that I can't wait to try. I haven't picked it up yet though, so I'm looking forward to that. Hopefully summer will hold on for a few more weeks, despite high winds today. I'll need some fine weather to get out on the bike!

Monday 5 September 2011

New house, new start!

Phew, that was a long break from blogging! I'm typing this from our new living room in the South of England! We arrived 2 weeks ago today, and there is still plenty of unpacking and sorting out to do... boooring. It seems incredible to me that we've moved from a 2-bedroom flat to a 3-bedroom, 3-storey house, and yet we have too much stuff to fit in. We blame it on the kids of course.

So far so good. The weather has been pretty sunny and warm here compared to in Scotland, and I'm enjoying exploring the local area. Our little town is quite quiet, but there are a few good shops in the High Street. There is a good leisure centre about 3 miles away, and I've already signed Robbie up for swimming lessons there. There is lots of nice countryside around us, and we are near the coast, and some good beaches.

There are a couple of little flies in the ointment though. We haven't managed to sell our flat in Scotland yet. The property market is in a poor state, and there is no market for small, first time properties such as ours. We can't afford to keep paying the mortgage for much longer, so might have to consider renting it out soon.

The other problem is that Robbie has not been able to get a place at a local school. The South of England is densely populated - there's so much more traffic here than in Scotland! - and the 2 local schools are full. This means he is in a school 3 miles away, so he's not going to make any local friends there, and it's not a particularly good school academically. I've got him on the waiting lists for the 2 local schools, which have better reputations, but this morning we had to drive him to his first day in the car. The local schools would be walking distance, so I really hope he gets a place nearer here eventually.

Meanwhile I am not making a lot of progress with my fitness. Before we moved my running had got to a low standard - I was running short distances slowly. After more time off, I'm not much better. However, last week I started running here. I went for 2 runs without my Garmin, so I could just explore the area and run without worrying about my speed. That was a nice change!

Last weekend, I took my Garmin as we now had an internet connection set up, and ran about 3 miles at a 9.01m/m pace. Not great. But as today is the first day of school, and Emma starts nursery tomorrow, it is time to start new routines! I'll be trying to increase my running a little, and work on speeding up and getting back to full fitness. I'll also be finding my way around the many footpaths here, and working out some new routes. I'll be sure to take some pictures of those for the blog!

Thursday 11 August 2011

Too busy to blog

I can hardly believe it but it's just over a week until we pack up and leave Scotland for the South coast of England. Am I excited about moving? Yes. Am I sad about leaving? Definitely. Are we ready to move? Not remotely.

The kids are still on holiday, so I'm looking after them full-time, while trying to fit in organizing things for the move and lots of seeing people to say goodbye. Robbie and Emma, as well as Pete and I, have been having last ever playdates with friends. The reality of packing up all our wordly goods and departing Scotland is starting to hit home (pardon the pun). I love this area, so I'll be really sorry to leave, and we've lived here for 7 years, which is the longest Pete and I have lived together anywhere. We had our children here and got married here, so we'll always feel a huge attachment to Scotland.

But in the long run, I know that moving is the right thing for us to do. We have been hoping to move nearer our families since we had children, and we'll be able to see a lot more of them from now on. The area we are moving to looks really nice, and I can't wait to get down there and get to know the place.

As for running, well I've not been doing too much recently. I ran a couple of times last week, and once so far this week, but I felt really out of it. I covered less than 3 miles each time and still averaged slower than 9 min miles. Since I had a cough I haven't managed to get my fitness back at all. I've also been doing a lot of cycling at the gym (damn those bike thieves), and some weights, which I've been enjoying.

Completely knackered after a short run.

So as there's not much running to report and I'm super-busy for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to put the blog on hold. Next time I post, I'll hopefully be in our new house 500 miles away! Watch this space!

Tuesday 2 August 2011


Remember me?!

That was a slightly longer break from blogging than I had intended, but that's because it's been a much longer break from running than I had intended. My last run was on 13th July, and that was followed by a little spate of feeling most unwell. After a few days of crappiness, we headed down South to stay with Pete's parents while he went to work at his new college in Brighton, and I went house-hunting.

While we were there, I developed a cough, had a few cold symptoms, and ended up not doing any running. Then we came back, and I still had a bad cough, and was busy with a few days' work, so I still didn't do any running.

Finally on Sunday, I laced up my trainers expectantly and started out for a run. It was a cool, cloudy morning, and I was really looking forward to being outdoors in the fresh air. However... I got to about 0.4 miles and felt terrible! I kept coughing, I had a stitch, and my legs felt like lead. I stopped and stood there for a moment, just wondering what was the best thing to do. In the end I ran a little further, then gave up, turned around and came home.

I felt really pissed off, as I had really wanted to enjoy a good run. You know that fantastic feeling you get when you have just had a great workout? I wanted that, and a 1 mile jog wasn't going to give me that buzz. A little while later, the kids went out on some grass in front of our house to play on their bikes, so I went out again and jogged round and round them for 10 minutes. This got my total up to 2 miles (in about 20 mins...).

There is a temptation to try to find one good reason (or excuse) when a run goes so badly wrong, but I think there were a few here. The cough kept stopping me, and I was too out of breath, but I also felt really tired, probably due to a few late nights. The stitch came from drinking too much water, and I may have lost some fitness in 3 weeks off. I'll try again later in the week, as the cough is getting better, but I really need to shake it off completely.

Anyway. What are the positives from the last few weeks? Well we've got somewhere to live down South! I found a house in a small town about 20 miles from Brighton and Pete's new job. We will be renting for the moment (as we haven't sold our flat here yet...). I'm quite excited as it looks like a good area to live in.

We've had some sunny summer weather! Ok, so it peed with rain all day today, but down South and back in Scotland we had a few good days when we actually needed to apply sun cream. Last week we spent a day by the sea, and all Robbie wanted to do was clamber over rocks. This made me chuckle as it was one of my favourite holiday activities when I was a kid too.

Another day last week, we went for a picnic in Edinburgh. When we left home, it was cloudy and cool, so I didn't bother with hats or sun cream. When we got into the city though, it was roasting hot (that's about 24 C in Scotland), and we had to find a shady tree to sit and eat under. We were in the park next to Arthur's Seat, an ex-volcano that is no longer in the erupting trade, but has gone into business as a good hill to climb for a view over Edinburgh.

I thought we might wander a little way up the neighbouring hill (smaller), but Robbie insisted he wanted to climb to the top for a good view. 'Well we can start', I said, 'but you know in a minute you'll be moaning that you're tired and you've had enough'. To my amazement though, we walked all the way up with no complaining whatsoever. Emma did brilliantly for a 3-year-old, despite it being hot and sunny, and me having brought no water. Oops. They really enjoyed it though.

Then last weekend, we took the stabilisers off Robbie's bike. He has seen smaller children cycling around on 2 wheels, so he wanted to have a go. Pete took him out on the grass at first, then we all went for a wander down the cycle path behind our house. He got the hang of it pretty quickly and was soon racing up and down. He's still having a bit of trouble getting started - especially if he's going uphill - but he's getting there.

So we've only got about 3 weeks left until we move! I can't believe it. I'm hoping I'll be able to run a few of my old favourite routes before we're off...

Friday 15 July 2011

A wee break

It hasn't been a great week. Since we got back from Mum and Dad's on Monday night, I've been feeling under the weather. I think it's mostly tiredness - I probably should have had a few more early nights when I was there instead of staying up reading every night and having long chats with my family etc. No, actually I think it was worth it!

Anyway, I managed a run on Tuesday morning, as well as a tough Pilates class on Monday evening, and then one session from 30-day shred. The combination of the last two left me aching all over and struggling to get out of bed on Thursday. Since then I've had headaches, a fever, and not been able to sleep much.

This weekend we are driving down to the other end of the UK where Pete will be working while I look at potential places to live. So I'm going to sign off for a week. I've packed my running things and Garmin (of course), so I haven't given up all hope, but I'm going to struggle to fit any running in. It's ok though, I'm telling myself that we're in the middle of a big life change, and if I'm ever going to have to take an enforced break from running, it might as well be while I don't feel a hundred percent, and while I'm trying to do a little job like organise the future of our family...

I'll try to keep up with everyone else's blogs as best I can, but don't expect to hear from me for a few days!

Tuesday 12 July 2011

A week away

We are back in Scotland after a great week visiting my parents in England. As far as I can tell, I managed not to put on a load of weight, despite treats and puddings such as chocolate fudge cake, strawberry flan and cream, caramel shortbread, apple crumble mmm....drool...

I went for 4 runs, but only ran a total distance of 12.1 miles. They were all short; a fast, flat 5K on Tuesday, 2.5 miles which included my fastest ever mile (see previous post) on Thursday, 3 tired slow miles on Friday, and my 'long run' of 3.5 miles on Sunday. Although they were all short runs, I felt that they were really good quality, and I ran fast and strong, (apart from Friday when I just felt completely knackered). I had a few late nights, as I kept staying up chatting, watching tv or reading. That was really nice.

Away from running, the kids spent a lot of time at the local play park;

did some cushion sewing in a craft event at the toy shop;

spent time with their baby cousin;

and met some famous characters at a summer fair.

Most of all though, they loved playing with Granny and Grandad, especially in the garden in sunny weather.

Life is very busy at the moment, so I'm not sure how much running I'll be fitting in this week - I think it's time to get back with old friend/foe Jillian and her DVD.