After running the London Marathon in 2010 I continue my pursuit for sporting greatness without the aid of running shoes. I now run 'Barefoot' full time and aim to run the London Marathon 2012 'bare'

My blog is an account of training for running, triathlon, staying fit for life and pushing my body to it's limits to become 'superfit'. I hope it will inspire others to go out and get fit for life and see how enjoyable and rewarding it can be

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Festive running

I haven't forgotten you all but as you can imagine training has still been a little slow, the ice and snow has only just completely melted today (the remaining stuff was ice rink stuff that popped up when you weren't looking) and then obviously Christmas has been a hindrance on training. Despite having in my head I'd train throughout Christmas the inevitable social events pop up, your entertaining guests or generally getting things ready for Christmas.

Since my last post I have only done 2 runs (shocking I know). The first one was an early morning long run (10km) on Monday morning when the visitors were tucked up in bed. In terms of long runs and considering the lack of training it was a very comfortable 10k and was meant to be running a 10k that day had it not been for the very rude and obnoxious race organisers. SO as it stands I am at the standard of fitness I would like to be at, at this point. The long runs will now get a mile longer each week until I reach 20 miles then I'll be tapering down again.

I Managed a 10k PB too (58 minutes 45) which assures me now that I am in the shape of my life and that is a pretty good place to be with 16 weeks to go! I have now also upped the weekday runs to 4 miles and this will go up a mile every 3 weeks or so. Did my first 4 miles today and got a fairly good time in but I was treating more as a recovery run. I managed to achieve a mile PB of 9 mins 14 seconds. I really am seeing the improvements!

Now to rant a little. I consider myself a considerate runner, when walkers are approaching I run right to the edge of the pavement (or take the road when safe to do so) and if I'm running behind I give a little cough so I don't startle them (had it done to me before). So WHY O WHY do I get tutted at and taunted at sometimes, I just don't get it? and most the time its by fat slobs with a fag hanging out there mouths! But today I heard the most ludacris taunt after in no way affecting their path of walking, I was happily running I shifted to the edge of the pavement and what do they shout 'Runners should be running on cycle paths' WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? In what way is running or runners in any way associated with cycling, yes they are both sports but for starters cyclist travel about twice as fast as runners, secondly why should I be putting myself and cyclists in danger and thirdly since when did the lazy slobs of this country rule the world? When did they get the right to taunt us runners (and I know cyclists who suffer too)for keeping fit and healthy.... GITS

Monday, 21 December 2009

Due to adverse weather conditions my training has suffered

Hello again.

Since writing my last entry I have had a disappointing week of training. Due to snow, ice, Christmas parties and god knows what else.

I didn't get a long run in yesterday as we were getting pretty heavy snow showers which was instantly turning to ice. I did finally manage to get out today despite Newark resembling an ice rink and about -2 temperatures. I have to say that despite my initial reservations of 'risking it' Craig gave me the slightly wary push I needed. Naturally he wanted to know how long I would be so he would know when to get worried, especially after sharing a story of some runner slipping and breaking there elbow.....ow!

Anyway I made it out and despite nearly slipping as soon as I stepped out of the house and being blasted with extremely cold midland air I got moving, dodging icy patches in favour of the powdery snow. The first 2 minutes were unpleasant to say the least, it was cold and I was slipping all over the place but once i started warming up and figured out what was good to run on, and what I needed to cross the road to avoid I started picking up the pace.

My heart start really racing and I realised I was actually enjoying this run, yes it would be slow but I was dodging about and with the air of danger, my heart started to race with adrenalin! It took every inch of my will power to not start racing off full pace as despite my meandering and dodging, the paths were still a death trap. OK I was running in a pretty strange manner and I was getting some particularly strange looks but it felt fabulous. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment or the cold does something to my brain but I think I found my favourite conditions to run in. Who'd have thought it!!??

On top of the mental benefits of running in those conditions I could really feel the run working my muscles harder and I was getting pains in muscles I didn't know existed! On top of that my core muscles were tested as they were basically preventing me from eating snow :) I am paying for it now but the best bit about it was that it was a big 'HAH, In your face snow' snow will no longer prevent me from doing what I love, it will encourage me to go and have some fun with the running!

On a charity, sponsorship note I have set up my Virgin Money fundraising page, I know it's still early days but I thought I'd start the pestering early :) Feel free to sponsor me to run for this very worthy cause, hey if the likes of David Beckham, Andy Murray (my sporting hero) and Denise Lewis are Leadership Council Members.... you can't argue with that. You know what to do!!!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Week 1...DONE

So week 1 of the training plan is done and dusted so I thought I’d update you on how I’m feeling and how the runs have been.

Since updating the blog last Monday I had 3 trips to the gym for weight training, 2 further 3 milers and a long run on Sunday. I am still playing around with clothing to find the right balance and have read that you should dress as though the temperature is 10 degrees Celsius warmer when dressing for a run. This made the average ‘run’ temperature about 14 degrees Celsius last week. Unfortunately it’s the initial blast of cold air before your body warms that means I am running with 3 layers including a long sleeved top, but I find that once I hit about 2km I’m almost too warm and having to roll up the sleeves. I’m getting there though and this week has snow, sleet, rain and ice forecast so it could be interesting.

Another thing I am working on is when I run, I had a busy weekend so I had to do my Friday run in the morning, whilst initially it was hard work (as my body was tight) I actually felt great afterwards and it was nice to have it ‘out the way’. The weekly long runs fall on a Sunday and at the moment I am trying to decide when I want to run these, Sundays are always tough because if you want to run in the mornings it is goodbye lie in but if you run in the evening there is no lunchtime drinks/steak etc (a luxury). This weekend I ran at around 6.30pm which was ok but at this stage the long runs will be less than an hour, at the peak of training I will be running for 4 hours…. Again this is something I need to focus on

My long run was relatively pain free but I need to remember to take it slow. Having felt good at mile 4 of 5 I sped up significantly and had a great finish…… unfortunately my body paid for it the next day, thankfully it was rest day and only had to undergo a gym review. Next week is 6 miles so I’ll see how that goes.

Following my gym review I now have a very focussed weights programme which I tried out this morning (ouch). It’s a tough regime but I’ll have a lot more things to mix up! It involves lunges of which always bear comical value to me, lord knows why but I cant help sniggering as I’m lunging! In the next few weeks the trainer will be adding free weights into the programme (clear the decks people, clumsy Gemma is waving weights around)! I am a firm believer in a precise weights programme as part of training for a race so to me this is just as important as going out for a run 4 times a week and thankfully my trainer agrees! All in all I have a very clean bill of health. Body fat percentage has dropped 10 % since March (when I got back to the gym and started running again) and I rate at 2 on the Visceral fat scale which is exceptional. On top of that I have lost around 2 stone and am now carrying 7 odd stone of muscle on my 10 Stone frame.

Hopefully this will all help with training and slowly will improve further. Focussing a lot on the core muscles too so I can get that ‘Runners World front cover model’ stomach…. I plan on running the marathon in as little as possible (crop top, shorts and token tutu) and I want to look like I’ve worked hard because so far…. I have!

Monday, 7 December 2009

I'm back and let the fundraising begin

I know it has been a while and for that I apologise. I had surgery to remove my wisdom teeth out and after a number of complications it took longer than expected to recover! BOO!

Hopefully now they are out i can get back to normal and whilst i'm not quite 100% the 20 week marathon training plan started today. Whilst I have been poorly I have made sure i have everything i need for training and am now sporting a Nike + ipod thing which basically turns your i pod into a garmin. I'm quite impressed so far and all my runs will now be recorded on the Nike + which is also linked to my FB page

So I haven't just been shopping.... promise! I have also been in discussion with Malaria No More UK (who I will be running the London Marathon for) to put an article on their website along with links to my justgiving page (a work in progress) and this blog. This is great news in terms of fundraising, especially considering the popularity of the charity since 'I'm a Celebrity...'. This should mean I raise loads of money and save a lot of lives by providing mosquito nets for children and families in malarial zones. This charity means a lot to me and is one that I truly believe in. It's simple, I raise money, it buys nets and in turn one net could save a family from the potentially fatal disease. The preventative way of fighting this disease make it a truly great way to save lives!

I will let you all know when something is up on their website, I'm still writing up something and trying to choose a pic. In the meantime why not check out the website and get a real feel of what this amazing charity does

Anyway onto some running, having done a few short runs last week to gauge my fitness levels, I have to say it felt great. Today I did a 3 miler, whilst the time I clocked up was a little slow for my average run a few things slowed me down (i had to figure out how to start the workout even though the clock was ticking), traffic was pretty bad on the route and generally i'm a little out of practice. The main thing is I finished the run comfortably and I am now well underway with the training. The run was a little cold and wet to say the least and I'm having to play around with layering etc in the clothing department to ensure I am sufficiently clothed. The big thumbs up goes to running tights, having always finding them mortifingly ugly I took the plunge and bought a pair and actually ran in public wearing them. They are fantastic and whilst they are not the most flattering thing on the planet they really do the job and now looking for a decent top to also keep me warm yet dry.

The Playlist is working ok, I need to work on the order and tweak it a little, a few songs are not working but I have found a power song, Final Countdown by Europe. This is probably one of my favorite songs ever and a truly great track to run to. Another potential, although it works well as a starting up song is Boom Boom Pow by Black Eyed peas...... I'm still on the hunt for more tracks so watch this space. I will update you all after my first week of training and probably talk about my aches and pains but for now, I FEEL GREAT!!

Saturday, 14 November 2009

So the running playlist

After a massive organise of my music collection (and getting rid of the 'Oh my god, I owned that?' CDs) I thought it was high time I put a proper running playlist together. There is nothing worse than running and having a song come on that will completely destroy your rhythm or generally have a song you feel the need to skip through (not in the literal sense). So after hours of sifting through hours and hours of music I have finally come up with a playlist!

It's quite a large playlist so it's going to have to be a brutal process of ellimination, if I run and a song comes on that I feel the need to skip, it will be removed. I hope after a few weeks I'll have a playlist big enough that the same songs dont get repeated but of a quality that passes Gemma control :0).

Whilst music is not vital for some runners, music is a critical part of my training. Running gives me the time really enjoy my music (which I will admit, mainly consists of camp rock, cheesy electronic 80's and Bowie). Music also sets a rhythm for you to run to and when choosing a song it is vital I get it right...... as I say there is nothing worse than having to root around in your running belt to dig out the Ipod and start skipping song. Power songs are also vital to pick you up when you are wilting or closing in on 'the wall'. I haven't found my power song yet but I predict it'll be a Queen number or the Noisettes- Dont upset the rhythm. Once I invest in my Nike+ pod for my shoes i'll be on the hunt for a power song..... suggestions welcome :)

Anyway in general the training is just on an easy level still until I get my op over and done with. By the time true training starts I know i'll be pretty prepared with the right kit, right music and a pretty good standard of fitness!

And so we have the list, feel free to give me any suggestions, strictly a no Lady Gaga, Alexandra Burke or Girls Aloud please! Manufactured pop acts are not condusive to making Gemma a happy runner :) (apart from a few I guess)

Name Artist
Alive and Kicking - Simple Minds Various Artists
Another One Bites The Dust Queen
Another One Bites The Dust Queen
bad Michael Jackson
beat it Michael Jackson
Because of You - Kelly Clarkson Various Artists
Big Girl [You Are Beautiful] Mika
billie jean Michael Jackson
blame it on the boogie Michael Jackson
Blondie One Way Or Another Various Artists
Blue Eyes Mika
blue monday new order
Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
Boom Boom Pow The Black Eyed Peas
Toxic Britney Spears
Chilly Down David Bowie
Changes David Bowie
China Girl David Bowie
Life On Mars? David Bowie
The Jean Genie David Bowie
Don't Speak No Doubt
Don't Stop Me Now Queen
dont stop til you get enough Michael Jackson
Dude (Looks Like A Lady) Aerosmith
Eye of the Tiger
Insomnia Faithless
Fat Bottomed Girls Queen
The Rockafeller Skank Various Artists
The Fear Lily Allen
Flash Queen
Gleaming Auction Snow Patrol
Gold Spandau Ballet
Grace Kelly Mika
Holding out for a Hero Bonnie Tyler
Hound Dog Elvis Presley
I Gotta Feeling The Black Eyed Peas
In For The Kill La Roux
Jailhouse Rock Elvis Presley
Canned Heat Jamiroquai
Just A Girl No Doubt
Milkshake Kelis
Killer Queen Queen
La Roux - Bulletproof La Roux
Let Me Entertain You Robbie Williams
A Little Less Conversation Elvis Presley
Lollipop Mika
love etc. Pet Shop Boys
Love In An Elevator Aerosmith
Magic Dance David Bowie
Millennium Robbie Williams
Doctor Pressure Mylo
Not Fair Lily Allen
pandemonium Pet Shop Boys
Pencil Full of Lead Paolo Nutini
pop muzik m
Don't Stop Me Now Queen
Radio Ga Ga Queen
I Like To Move It Reel 2 Real
Relax [Take It Easy] Mika
Resistance Muse
Rock DJ Robbie Williams
Run Snow Patrol
smooth crimanal Michael Jackson
Space Oddity David Bowie
Spiderwebs No Doubt
Spitting Games Snow Patrol
tainted love__12 mix soft cell
temptation heaven 17
That's Not My Name The Tings Tings
Total Eclipse of the Heart - Bonnie Tyler
Walk This Way Aerosmith
We Are Golden Mika
We Are The Champions Queen
We Will Rock You Queen
(You're The) Devil In Disguise Elvis Presley
Valerie The Zutons

Quite eclectic and retro YAY! Feel free to ridicule but remember this is music to run to!

Monday, 9 November 2009

Running bug

Having finally been accepted to run the London Marathon I am both nervous and scared but also very excited to be finally persuing my childhood dream. Maybe that's a little sad, most kids dream of being doctors or becoming astronauts (fair enough I want to do those too) but from the moment it became apparent that I was a half decent runner, probably at the age of nine and being particularly lanky probably helped. As I grew a little older and took it a little more seriously (actually running cross country and not stopping around the corner and waiting like every other sane child did)and by the age of about 11 I really grew to enjoy running and was one of the better runners in my year and it was about this age that I decided I wanted to run the London Marathon. Looking back this probably makes me a weird 11 year old.

As my school years progressed me and my best friend would talk about how she would train me to to run the marathon but wont be doing any of the running herself, she'd do it from her car because by the time i could run the marathon she'd be a really cool 18 year old with a car.... of course!! Having spent many years fighting with PE teachers who insisted running was not a proper sport to be graded as a GCSE I walked away with average PE grades and a big chip on my shoulder..... just because I couldn't play netball I wasn't a sportswoman!

At the age of 17 I left the school I grew to hate and resent as they never developed my potential. So off my own back I continued to run a little with cadets but eventually stopped altogether until the age of 21. Having spent years partying, smoking and letting myself go I decided to change things a little . I spent a few weeks jogging around Wimbledon Park with Kirsty who decided she didn't want to do it anymore so I stopped again!

A Year later I was desperate to get that feeling back that I only temporarily experienced in Wimbledon Park and after yet another drunken family do I agreed with my step grandfather that i would one day run Comrades Ultra Marathon in the Drakensberg mountains..... That was it, I joined a gym and before venturing out onto the streets I took to the treadmill.... within moments that feeling was back..... and I'm not talking about the burning (being a 20 a day smoker and binge drinker at the time). I almost instantly signed up for a 10km race which was 5 weeks ahead, it'd be tight but with the promise of £100 if i came in under an hour I trained hard.... I got my sub 1 Hour that time around!!!

Amongst the celebrations on a drunken night out I somehow agreed to work in Botswana and within 2 and a half months I was on a plane to Africa, I nearly left my running shoes behind thinking I would not run out there! How wrong i was, this was the place I truly fell in love with running, being cheered by the kids on the streets as you run a measly 3km (a scorching one at that), being chased by warthogs, run ins with Ele's and frequently running home towards an African Sunset. That's the beauty with running, you can run anywhere anytime, no opening hours, no fancy equipment, just you and the road and scenery of your choice!

After Botswana I headed to Capetown in the shape of my life so far and I raced a 10km, the African spirit and comraderie in running out there was truly amazing! Then I returned to the UK with a bump. Without a gym membership I had to take to the streets of Medway (very hilly) most days were lovely runs but some days I'd have gangs of 'hilarious' kids finding it funny to throw stones at me.... the love affair between me and running was well and truly off.

I then met my amazing husband Craig who was always driving me to get back out and run (I think he wanted some time with his computer games) but I never did it, the area we lived in was rough and totally uninspiring, especially compared to what I was used to. Then we Moved to Crystal Palace and the love affair was well and truly 'on' again. Running around Crystal Palace park was amazing, the undulating hills, the greenery, the lake...... then whislt I was verging on a breakthrough and being ready for a 1/2 marathon I got a bad ear infection which lasted long enough to throw me off my training.

Then came the hard times, the country was heading for recession, my husband couldn't find work and we had to leave London. We moved to Newark in Nottinghamshire and it was the best move I ever made.

My on off relationship with running has been well and truly on since March and have lost a stone and a half as a result. Even through tough times with my wisdom teeth running has been my drug to temporarily ease my pain. Now I get to train for the London Marathon, a long term dream of mine that I will fufil. I'm taking things easy right now whilst I await surgery on my teeth but come December I'll be training full throttle and I'm going to keep you with me every step of the way.......

Gemma well and truly has the running bug and it is here to stay :)