Monday 30 January 2012

1-10 of last week

1 race completed last week, 1st race completed in 2012, 1st ever Eastbourne Parkrun and I came 1st! No of course I didn't, in fact I was 56 out of 120, and 15th of 49 females. I treated this more as a fun event than a serious race, and sure enough I didn't run particularly well. I felt pretty tired and finished with a time of 26.03 - about 90 secs slower than my PB.

2 early morning runs when I got up in the dark as everyone else slept. Hard work.

3 miles was the distance of each morning run.

4 times I ran last week, which means I have met my target of 4 runs each week for the whole of January! Woo-hoo!

5 kilometres was the distance of the Parkrun race on Saturday.

6 was the number of days I exercised last week. As well as running I cycled 10 miles on Friday, and did a Pilates DVD on Tuesday.

7 was the number of days that I did all my calf stretches and little exercises to keep my heels fit. I am trying really hard to keep that injury at bay...

8 is, er, approximately the number of biscuits I ate on Wednesday evening with a cup of tea.

9 stone 0 pounds is exactly what I weighed in on Sunday, despite the biscuits. I haven't stood on the scales for weeks and weeks, but my weight is the same as the last time. This seems to be my body's natural size, any slimmer and I would find it hard to maintain (and keep eating biscuits).

10 is the number of miles I ran on Monday on my longest LSR since the injury! It felt like a huge milestone. It was hard going though, and my average pace was 9m34s, which is some way off the speed I need to run a half marathon in under 2 hours. I think that goal may still be a few months off.

In addition, my total number of miles last week was 19.3 - up again! Next week is going to be very tricky to manage, with various obstacles to training, so the miles will have to drop, unfortunately. Possibly not a bad thing in terms of injury prevention, but not ideal for the half marathon I've been eyeing on 4th March!

Thursday 26 January 2012


I've mentioned before that I am a regular listener to the Marathon Talk podcast, and the running-based chatter it consists of really helped me get through the training for my marathon (way back in May '10).

This month they have established a challenge for listeners called Jantastic. (In fact they did it last year too, but of course I wasn't running then). At the start of January, listeners were asked to state how many runs they would complete each week. This should be a challenging but achievable target, and I entered myself for 4 runs. Most of last year I ran about 3 times a week, and it's a bit of a struggle to regularly fit 4 runs in my busy week as well as the odd bit of cross-training. I wouldn't be able to fit in 5 runs, and I'd be worried about getting injured again.

Anyway, the great thing about Jantastic is that there are no prizes and there's no proof of what you've done - you simply log each run online when you've done it. The whole thing relies on participants being honest, and its purpose is to motivate us and push us out the door when we feel a bit 'can't-be-bothered-y'. It works too - I found myself getting up early before a busy day last Sunday to squeeze in run number 4 for the week, and I wouldn't have done if it weren't for wanting to keep my 100% stats on Jantastic.

Next week sees the start of 'Febulous', in which you add the distance of your longest run each week and try to stick to that. I'm going to have to plan that very carefully as February includes a week of school holidays, as well as 1 extra no-school Monday (which is when I usually do my long run), and we are busy every weekend.

Of course the other great motivator is this blog, and reading about other bloggers' accomplishments makes me get off the sofa and move so I've got plenty to write about here. One of my favourite Christmas presents was this excellent book I got from Pete:

The simple but courageous tale of an ordinary Mother who decided to cast aside years of lazy inactivity and train for a marathon. Every post to the end of 2010 (and all the pictures), is included, and it's great to be able to look back over all my posts in book form. I know that sounds incredibly narcissistic, but hey, that's me! Pete did it on some website and it was a big secret, so it was a huge surprise when I saw it. I've always wanted to be a published writer - no doubt this is the only way it could ever happen!

Monday 23 January 2012

A tougher week

Things have been going so well since the start of January - I've been steadily increasing weekly mileage and long runs further than I've managed for about 15 months, so it was inevitable that there would be a wobble at some point. Last week I struggled a bit, but am still on track. Phew.

The bad
1. I finally got a proper cold. Despite having a snotty nose for the last 3 months, it was only this week that I got the sore throat, hacking cough and streaming nose that signify actual illness.

2. This forced me to take a rest day on Wednesday, when I would have rather been for a run, and I then missed a bike ride on Friday to fit in a substitute run.

3. This also made all the other runs tougher than they should have been, as I needed regular coughing and nose-wiping breaks.

4. I got a hangover! I don't drink to excess often these days, but on Friday night, Pete and I stayed up late chatting and playing cards like we used to do before we were parents. We also used to drink vodka and tonic about 10 years ago, and hence I woke up on Saturday morning with a banging headache and a reluctance to get out of bed. I felt ok after some breakfast and nurofen though.

5. The following night, our neighbours had a party. The music was pretty loud through the walls, and although Pete and the kids slept through it, I was kept awake until after 3am. Why oh why can't I be a deep sleeper?

(6. I got a little pain in my heel after my long run, but I don't want to talk about it.)

The good
1. I ran 8.1 miles on Monday, which was my longest run since the injury. I can't pretend it was fun, in fact it was bloody hard work, but it felt great when I'd finished.

2. I had another lovely bike ride on Tuesday. It was about 10.4 miles and quite hilly, but I really enjoyed finding a new route and exploring.

3. I ran 18.7m for the week, so mileage is still going up!

4. We had a great weekend involving kids' cinema, furniture shopping, lunch out, a visit to my brother-in-law's and a trip to the park with his family. It's great that the kids can see their cousin so easily now we moved down from Scotland.

Anyway I still ran my long run, ran 4 times, and kept increasing the mileage, so it all turned out ok in the end!

Monday 16 January 2012

Last week

Last week was pretty busy. I ran or cycled for 6 days in a row, which is not at all normal behaviour for me.

I started the week with my longest run, a 7-miler. While I didn't exactly feel superfit, it was a lot better than the 5 miles that exhausted me the previous Monday. It felt good to get a bigger distance under my belt after lots of short runs around Christmas.

On Thursday evening I ran a club session which was 2 minutes hard in one direction, 90 seconds rest, then turn around and run 2 minutes back to where you started. The idea is that you start and finish in the same place each rep, and aim for consistent pace. I did ok, but it wasn't one of my favourite sessions. I don't know why, I just didn't take to it.

Added to those two, I also did little runs on Wednesday and Sunday, which gave me an overall mileage of 17.1 miles, my biggest week since October.

Due to some fabulous sunny weather, I had 2 very enjoyable bike rides this week. On Tuesday I got lost in a housing estate, and ended up having to scale a big hill, then on Friday I planned a big loop on quiet roads passing farms, fields and a duckpond. In total, I cycled 20.3 miles.

On foot and wheels, I covered 37.4 miles last week. That's the biggest total mileage I've done since time began - Garmin-measured time at least. I once totalled 36 miles in September 2010, but that was all bike and no running, and even when I was marathon training and running up to 30 miles a week, I wasn't cycling. How marvellous to have all these numbers and dates at the click of a mouse!

On Thursday, Emma and I caught the train to Brighton purely to visit the running shop sale. I invested in some new trainers, as I've done over 400miles in the last pair. As it was the sale, I thought it prudent to also take advantage of a new jacket and a top. The shoes are Mizuno Wave riders - not a brand I've had before, but I love the look of them, and they feel really comfortable so far.

On Thursday morning, I woke up with a head full of cold as usual, and as I was getting breakfast I surprised the whole family with a gigantic sneeze, quickly followed by a yelp of pain. I had pulled something in my neck. It ended up being really painful, and I thought it might stop me running, but I was fine as long as I didn't turn my head. I had a couple of bad nights' sleep, as the pain kept waking me up whenever I turned over, and it was really uncomfortable for a few days. How ridiculous! It's a lot better now, thank goodness.

So January has been going well so far, I just hope I can keep it up...

Thursday 12 January 2012

Early bird

When I first started running regularly, I already had both the kids, and I found that the best way to fit running in during the week was to get up before them. I would set the alarm for 6am-ish, do as little a warm-up as possible, then get 3 miles under my belt before anyone in the house started to stir.

Recently though I've moved away from that habit. I've been running more in the evenings (still in the dark), and felt that I tended to run better later in the day. I don't think I've had a pre-breakfast run since about June. The thought of losing 45 minutes sleep, or even 45 minutes lying quietly in bed has been too horrible to contemplate.

But this week I thought it might be time to reconsider. I wanted to fit a run in on Wednesday, and I couldn't guarantee that Pete would be home early enough in the evening for me to go. Then I would have struggled to make that run up later in the week. I also wanted more than 24 hours rest before Thursday evening's run with the club, as I've got a sore calf at the moment.

So on Tuesday night, I only had a little glass of wine, I went to bed at a reasonable time and didn't stay up late reading, I organised my running stuff into a little pile, and set my alarm. It woke me up in the dark of Wednesday morning and I forced myself up, dressed in a haze and did a few warm-up exercises in front of the morning news on the telly.

Then I went for a run. And it was great! I must admit I didn't enjoy getting out of bed, but after I left the house, things improved dramatically. The roads were quiet - just a few dogs and their walkers about, and I remembered how good it felt to be out early.

When I got home, everyone was still asleep in bed, so I managed to have a lovely hot shower before being pestered about breakfast or clean school uniform. It was only a ploddy 3 miles, but it really did improve my whole day. I felt virtuous, energised and like a good runner! I spent most of the day thinking about running and planning future races in my head.

So I think I'll incorporate a Wednesday morning run into every week. It fits into my training well, and seems to have various benefits. Although I do reserve the right to change my mind and hit the snooze button whenever the novelty wears off...

Monday 9 January 2012

2012, Week 1...

Is it like this every winter? Do I always wake up every single morning with a stuffed up head and a runny nose, in need of another 5 hours' sleep? Possibly, I really can't remember, but that's what it's been like this winter since about November. I realise I'm not helping to solve this problem as I can't seem to get to bed early. For Christmas I got a beautiful kindle, and a large pile of actual books too, and I keep reading until I doze off, instead of closing my eyes when I should.

Anyway, I think I had a bit of a cold last week. I felt ok most of the time, but my running was pretty shabby. I think my body was fighting off some evil bug, which took away some of the energy I apparently needed to run.

On Monday it was still school holidays, but luckily it was Pete's holiday too, so I was able to go for a morning run. I'd planned about 6 miles, but felt so lacking in energy that I dropped to 5m. I got a stitch just after 2miles, and struggled to complete the distance, it was rubbish.

The following day I felt quite achey, and ran the slowest 3-miler I've done for a long time. My average mile pace was 9m27s! I decided to call it a recovery run, although I didn't feel very recovered afterwards.

Wednesday was Emma's 4th birthday! We spent most of the day mooching round the shops and sitting in cafes waiting for Robbie to finish school, and after picking him up we went home to play with new toys, dance to music and eat birthday cake. I can't believe she's 4, my baby girl!


On Thursday I ran with the local club in the evening. I still didn't feel good, and after a 1mile warm up I was already wheezy, despite having taken my inhaler as usual. We ran 6 x 600metres with 2min recovery after each lap. I took it steady and tried not to wreck myself.

Friday was a glorious sunny day and I had my first bike ride in 4 weeks. It was really lovely feeling the sun on my face, I'd almost forgotten what sun felt like. I had a great 10 miles.

Sunny views

On Saturday we celebrated Emma's birthday further with a trip to a local zoo and play park. There were lots of cool small animals, and plenty of activities for the kids, as well as a great play area. I decided to leave a run until Sunday. I thought I ought to try to up my speed for this week, and used a foolproof method to do so - put some music on my ipod.

I usually listen to podcasts (or nothing), but I often find that some fast music can help me increase my speed almost unknowingly. I ran 3 miles at 8.30min/mile pace this time - much better!

So I ran 4 times, totalling 14.7 miles. Not a bad start to the year, but I need to get some longer runs in if I'm going to run a half marathon, and I really need to do something about my speed...

Friday 6 January 2012

Goals for 2012

I'm not a huge fan of setting specific running goals for myself. I am motivated enough to run most of the time without needing a target mileage to get to, and since the whole heel debacle of 2010/2010, I am very aware that you can't predict what obstacles may get in your way. Basically, I'm scared I might get injured again.

But having said that, I have got a few goals for 2012. These are some of the things I'd like to achieve:

1. PB at Half-marathon

I really enjoyed the 13.1 mile distance in 2009 and 2010, and wanted to do a lot more before my plans were scuppered by the heel. I ran 2h10 in my first ever half in 2009, and I know I should easily be able to beat that time nowadays.

2. Go under 2 hours at Half-marathon

In August 2010 I was running well enough to do this, and ran exactly 120 mins in a training run. 2 weeks later I got injured, and hobbled round the Great North Run with no interest in my time, just wanting to finish. Since then I've only run a maximum distance of 8 miles, so I need to increase my long runs and endurance, but I'd love to get under 2 hours. It won't be easy though...

3. Run over 600 miles

In 2011 I ran 405 miles with a lot of time out for injury, so I reckon I can improve on that quite a bit. 600 miles works out as about 11.5 miles a week, so even accounting for lower weeks when I'm busy, ill or injured, it should be do-able.

4. Run more races

I love entering races, but only managed 3 last year! I'd love to do one a month, but I can't commit to that many when most of our family time is at weekends. It's just too much to ask from Pete and the kids at this age, so rather than specifiy a number, I just want to do as many as I realistically can.

5. Keep up the cross-training

This really just means cycling. I don't have any cycling goals, but I just find it an enjoyable way to burn calories and keep fit without overdoing the running. I'm aiming to cycle once or twice a week at the moment, depending on how much I'm running.

6. Do more Pilates and weight training

Having moved house, I'm yet to find a new Pilates class. Ths problem with this is making the time for it, when that time could more enjoyably be spent running. However, I do think the Pilates helped with my injuries, so I really must do more. I need to decide what weight training to do, but I know that could help increase my fitness and improve my running too.

7. Keep Plantar Fasciitis at bay!

This is my most important goal. I don't really know how to do it, but it involves not overdoing the running, and addressing the issue as soon as I get heel pain. I would love a whole year without it now, but I just don't know when it might come back.

So who knows what this year will bring - last January I had no idea that I would end 2011 having relocated from Scotland to the South of England, for example - but I hope I can attempt some of the above before the year is out. To quote ajh: '2012 here I come'!

Monday 2 January 2012

2011 - Review of the Year

If you had told me at the beginning of last year about how well I would run in 2011, I would have been pretty disappointed. I would have been gutted to know how long my heel injury would continue; the amount of running I would manage; the length of my longest run; the number of races I would run and the fact that my bike would be stolen. However, looking back and seeing the events of the year in context, it really doesn't seem too bad!

January was a disastrous month for running. I started the year depressed about my continuing injury, and then got flu. I attempted 2 runs, each one about 1.5 miles.

In February I had a more positive attitude. I threw myself into cross-training, and joined the gym. I went 8 times in the month, and also cycled 65 miles in 9 bike rides. As a family we went orienteering for the first time and loved it!

March was the month in which I started running properly again - hooray! I gradually built up from 1.5milers to 5k, although my speed was pretty poor. I also started Pilates classes on the advice of my physiotherapist, which I found kind of boring, but helpful to my core strength and balance. The Scottish weather went from snowy to sunny - phew.

In April I kept on running, and increased my longest run distance to 4.6 miles (very slow though). I enjoyed the Easter holidays, bought a foam roller, and raced Edinburgh Parkrun (5K) with a decent time. I was running or cycling 4-5 times a week and still doing pilates, but for some reason (probably school holidays), I didn't get to the gym.

In May, I finally got round to losing the last of the extra weight I'd put on at Christmas! It was my biggest cycling month of the year (75 miles), and I did some Pilates and Gym visits too. My longest run increased to 5.5 miles.

In June I bought some new trainers and ran my first proper race of the year. It was also my first ever trail race, and I absolutely loved it. It turned out to be my last race in Scotland... The bad news was, my bike was stolen, so there were no bike rides for a while.

In July, life started to get really busy. I spent a week at my parents' house, and then we were away house-hunting in England. I had no bike, and I did very little running. However, I walked up a big hill with the kids, and Robbie learnt to ride his bike without the stabilisers!

August was the month we moved from Scotland to the South of England. It was so hectic and busy I only ran 10.6 miles the whole month.

In September I did my first running from our new house and bought a new bike! I also did another race - 'The Big 10K' in Bexhill. My time was nothing to write home about, but Robbie and Emma had a great time at the children's 500m race. I started running with local club Hailsham Harriers.

In October I really put my mind to running more. I ran 57 miles in total, did 3 sessions with the club, increased my long run to 7.4 miles, and did a lot of exploring on my bike. Oh, and I threw away my insoles - progress!

In November I got a cold, and did a lot less cycling. I ran my longest run for the whole year - 8 miles - and found my speed was improving.

December was a pretty excellent month. It started with a 5K PB at the Worthing Christmas Cracker race. I ran 57.2 miles in total - joint highest with October - and really enjoyed my running. We also finally got a buyer for the flat in Scotland, which was a huge relief!

So this is what 2011 looked like in mileage. The grey is cycling and the red is running. I can't tell you how much fun I had making this lovely bar chart. Anyway, you can see that I made good progress with the running from March onwards, until moving house put things back a bit in July and August. I'm really pleased with my progress since September, and I'm just so glad I'm running regularly again.

That's 481.5 miles cycled; 405.3 miles run, and perhaps most importantly, 58,134 calories burned in 2011! That's loads of biscuits, woo-hoo! Imagine how fat I'd be if I hadn't done any exercise!

Although I only ran 4 races last year, they were really enjoyable, and although I only ran 8 miles as my longest run, I'm looking forward to building on that distance this month. My number one goal for 2012 is just to keep on running...