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

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Running, It's the future

So in the past month things haven't been too great (again) for my lil running legs! I was struck down with a chest infection and a cold for 2 weeks and I am now recovering from a torn intercostal muscle (rib muscles) and infection on the lungs. It is utterly excrutiating and I am once again supplementing my diet with Ibuprofen!

All is not lost though. When I am poorly or not able to get in the fast or long runs I tend to focus a lot more on the future and finer details of running.

So I've not been running an awful lot but the runs I have been doing have been slow and I've been really working on my gait. In the past few months I have felt my gait has been getting sloppy and I was getting a few twinges but I have been tidying things up there.

As a result of these shorter runs I have felt like i'm not running enough but my rib injury can't cope with much more than 5 miles so I have been introduced to the world of 'doubles'. For those not down with the lingo this basically means running 2 shorter runs a day as opposed to 1 longer run. The way I have been doing it is running with the dog in the morning (up to 3 miles) and then a slightly longer and faster one in the evening on my own. This way the dog gets his joggies and I get a quality run and still get to eat dinner at a reasonable hour. At the moment it's working well for me and it's apparently excellent for burning fat so hopefully I'll shed the few inches of winter padding I've acquired!

With being ill for almost a month now my long runs have been neglected and whilst I could still run a half marathon the pain in my ribs is not yet fading and with the race getting ever closer I have made the (hopefully) wise decision to pull out of the Norwich Half Marathon at the end of the month. It does mean that I will not crack one of my targets for the year but I will now focus on getting my sub 50mins 10k for now. I'll see how I feel once my ribs are better but half marathon's are few and far between in December so I will be focussing my energy on the Grantham half in March to really smas that PB, it's a LOVELY race and close to my heart being my first half!

So future planning is underway and I have now decided to run a marathon in Spring (as well as Istanbul in October 2011). Despite being offered a place in the London Marathon I have opted for the Edinburgh Marathon. I've not yet registered. Waiting to get better first. Other than that, I am yet to sort out my race diary for next year but I am aiming for 4 half marathons, 2 marathons and perhaps 4 or 5 10kms (maybe 11 for '11). Also hoping to do a triatlon (sprint) with the Husband in June. Busy busy but it's good to have these targets to keep me going, especially when training isn't going your way!

Now I can't wait to get better and go out and do some proper running and hopefully come back stronger. Despite my short distances and slow paces I have still clocked up 24 miles this week so the doubles certainly get the miles in :)

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

New 10k PB

So after this weekends race I thought it was about time I updated my blog.

So for this race I travelled down south to Surrey for this race. I felt like a change to the normal Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire scenery and fancied a visit to the family so in true slightly obsessed runners style I thought I'd squeeze in a race whilst I was there.

So after 2 races where the temperatures were soaring I was slightly lacking in confidence for this race. I have really put in the training but I still prayed for a cool day. And so the morning was overcast and crisp and perfect running conditions but I still felt anxious about this race. I didn't know if I could handle another disappointing race!

So the target was sub 53 and on a perfect day 50 mins (optimistic) and I was determined to get at least a PB! So the we set out, as usual I took the first mile easier and despite it being a little congested at the start myself and my Brother in law weaved our way past the slower runners and settled for 5 minutes or so. At this point I subconsciously took it up a gear and realised 2 minutes later I had lost my running buddy (I am useless running with others, sorry So what next? I wanted to get at least a 9 min first mile which I did.

At this point I had found my groove, I had the bounce in my knees and I was raring to go. I started to overtake people, one at a time. As I worked my way through the field, my anxiousness returned, was I doing too much? On reflection I was running well and comfortably but at the time I eased of a bit. Even then I was still overtaking people and not being overtaken, this has never happened to me in a race, usually finishing in the bottom half of the field.

By the time i reached mile 3 I was brimming with confidence, I had overtaken loads of people, this is when they usually over take back!! So we hit the canal path which was fairly traily, muddy and rocky... thank god for training I put into running trails in barefoot shoes. I noticed that people had started to slow down at this point and once I had a feel for the ground I was manoeuvring over the stones and whilst people were slipping on the wet stones I was gripping the stones with my feet and bouncing all over the place, barefoot+trails= good fun! By mile 4 I had overtaken another chunk of people as I ran straight through the mud and right across the stones instead of dodging them!

By now I was so glad I was running 'barefoot', this is what it was designed for, OK it was a clear path but a slightly unlevel one and it suited me just fine. I saw my sisters and niece at about 4 miles and as they cheered me on (asking the whereabouts of my brother in law...oops) I got a new lease of life just when my legs were starting to tire. I started to enjoy the scenery and pin point the next person to overtake. By 4.5 I seemed to have settled behind similar paced runners so I decided to stay there until the final mile when I would speed up a little and then really kick in the final km. I overtook (with greater difficulty, these people were far more competitive...damn!) a few more people and spotted my target for the final KM.

At the final KM, as I promised myself, I overtook this woman who seemed to take it as a personal insult that I dared do such a think when I wasn't even wearing running shoes! 30 seconds later she shoved me out her way (complete with her nail digging into the back of my arm) and overtook me, BITCH! I was furious, there is just no need to be like that amongst our running comrades. I let her through and stayed at her ankles until the final 200m.

This is my forte, my sprint finish so I sprinted past her but no she was sprinting back past me, did I have anything left.... just when this scuffle was looking to end in her favour in the final 75 I found another gear, family cheering I raced past the woman who I will only refer to as 'the bitch that tried to mess with Gemma' I beat her by about 5 metres, how the hell did I sprint that fast? I guess I should thank her for making me angry.... although she may of regretted it!

I got a PB of 52.28 and came 77th out of 300! No wonder I felt like I was overtaking loads of people, I was!!!

Overall it was such a positive race that has made me realised I am a serious competitor. No I will never be running it in 35 minutes BUT I can certainly try and be amongst the best of the 'quite good' runners in the future!

I will update again tomorrow with some big running decisions I have been making! All very exciting!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Running rocks my world, especially with Brian

So I haven't written much lately, mainly because I haven't ran much.

So what can I tell you? Well about 4 weeks ago I acquired a minor injury which put me out of training for a week and I went away and whilst I had every intention of running whilst away, I had no room in my luggage for running gear. :(

So I thought maybe a break from running would renew my love for it a little and get me fired up again! Whilst I was away I was still walking around 3-4 miles a day and swimming so I suppose that could be classified as cross training. By the time I returned I was so excited to go for a run I felt pretty insane and after a lacklustre 4 mile run I was disappointed. I think I was just exhausted from travelling. For the rest of the week I made as many excuses as I could (rather than face up to the fact I was just exhausted) and only managed 2 more little runs with the dog.

Running with the dog is a fun way to run. It's slow so I don't time it and I try and incorporate playtime in too so he doesn't get bored. When I first ever took him for a run he seemed to not enjoy it but now he just absolutely loves it. Everyday when I put my running gear on he waits in anticipation to see if he's joining me today. When he does join me he bounds around like a fool and I do to.... we go out cross country, wade in the rivers and play chase me. It really is the best time I ever have with him, it's our bonding time.

And once we are sufficiently muddy and we can't sprint anymore we plod home. Whether we've ran 1 mile or 4 miles when we reach the 200 metres from home mark he goes into 'I can't possibly walk another step' mode. He isn't tired, I know he isn't, as I said its just a certain point he does it whether we've covered a mile or 5.... so everyone looks at the poor dog who is utterly exhausted! What a cruel owner I am! I personally think he does it to keep our fun run times our secret. So when we get home he bounds to life again for a few minutes to thank me and get exciteable when I do my lunges then he passes out for the evening a very happy dog.... now we just need to get my husband to join to make it perfect! I wholeheartedly recommend running with the hound (or Joggies as we like to call it) it's fun, no timers, no pacing, no seriousness, just good old playtime and covering 3 miles whilst you are at it!

So after a week of fun running I'm back on the serious stuff now. Inspired by the Great North Run I'm now craving a new challenge, I have a 10k in a few weeks and another half marathon end of November in which I hope to nail my target times for the year (sub 53 10k, sub 1:55 half). After reading a few articles about marathon training I have discovered that if you are running what I am on a good week (20 miles in the week with a long run of 10-12miles) and you are consistently doing this it is possible to run a marathon with extra training over 4 weeks. Now I wouldn't go that minimalist I think the commitment to marathon training wouldn't be anything like it was last time as I have the fitness to run 13 miles at the moment (maybe more). Being so injured last time I was constantly playing catch up. So I think I may do a marathon in Spring with the hope of just upping training for 6 weeks and see how that works for me..... I have nothing to lose really. My London Marathon experience was hampered with injuries and my time, whilst ok, was disappointing to me so now want to prove to myself that I am a sub 4:30 runner because I know I am! So It's safe to say, I have a renewed zest for running again :)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Newark Half.... pheweee

I know, I know, it's been a while. I really struggle to find time to write sometimes but I am trying to make sure I spend some time doing what I enjoy! So I present to you my race report from the Newark Half Marathon.

Having missed out last year due to severe wisdom teeth problems I was really excited about doing my local big race. It was a strange position to be in having ran most the route a number of times when I was marathon training. I still can't decide if it was an advantage or a disadvantage.... it was definately a disadvantage knowing exactly what the big hill was like to climb!

So race morning was a relaxed affair as I live about a five minute walk away from the registration point. I followed my usual hyration and nutrition strategy completely oblivious to the weather outside..... and so we left.... as I stepped out the front door the heat immediately hit me! After my last race in the heat my confidence levels dropped, this was going to be another one of those races! So I reassessed my race strategy. The temperature as it was would mean I would lose about 30 seconds a mile, over 13 miles it soon adds up so I just decided to aim for the 2 hour mark as opposed to sub 1:58.

SO slightly deflated at the fact that a PB wasn't on the cards I remembered why I run and it's not to get faster. It's a perk and something to aim for but I was actually able to do this race this year and I intended to enjoy it. So I handed over my bag to Craig and he had the luxury of being able to head home for an hour and a half and be ready for me at the finish line. I headed to the start line and was shocked at the turnout, people of all shapes, sizes, ages, abilities had turned out and for those who weren't racing, were cheering from the roadside. So the crowded start line set off.

The first mile was a bit of a shuffle. It felt strange running in a traffic free Newark, no cars glaring or swearing at me like I was some insane women for exercising and having a goal... in it's place the people of Newark lined the streets, cheering at everyone, The atmosphere they created was fantastic and by mile 2 I was feeling good. I managed to block out the heat mentally and decided to pick up the pace.

By 5k I had set a PB so needed to slow it down a little. Miles 4 and 5 were a breeze, I felt like I was flying and a 10k PB indicated I pretty much was but by this point  the midday sun was creeping in. I was wetting my cap at every water station only for the heat and sun to dry it moments later. By mile 7 the race became less scenic and frankly a little dull and the heat started to get to me, I notice a lot of people around me started to slow down too.

Mile 8 came into view, far more scenic but still getting hotter and hotter. This is the point I'll refer to as the bad patch. For those who don't run it is hard to explain what it is like running when you are overheating. For me it's just infuriating, my mind knows I can easily run this race but the heat makes your legs feel like lead and your head pounds which invitably makes to feel tired. Meanwhile in my head I know I can run faster and that I'm a stronger and better runner than my last half but I'm going slower. With this running through your mind it doesn't make the rough patches very easy to handle.

I knew I had to snap out of it soon as the big hill was coming up at mile 10 and it is a KILLER! So mile 9 was mentally prepping my mind to handle this hill I know all so well and there I ran at the bottom of this hill, dizzy, hot, tired and legs like lead! I actually started to wonder if I could finish this race, this has never crept into my mind in a race before and it shocked me. So I tackled this hill with every inch of my willpower, my lungs were burning, as was my skin and my trainer choice was poor... I should of bitten the bullet and gone barefoot!

I promised myself an energy gel at the top of the hill, I needed it! But I made it, it was pretty much a downhill run from here I could do this! I took my gel and a few minutes later I felt nauseus, for the first time ever in a race I thought I needed to be sick. I soldiered on. The crowds got thicker and mile 11-12 was a lovely downhill stretch which was an amazing relief. I usually pick up my pace in the final mile but I just had nothing left and was still feeling a little nauseus. Just 10 more minutes, Craig would be at the finish line waiting for me and I drink all I like. 'C'mon Gemma'  I kept saying and despite being exhausted from the heat I managed to gee up a few people who had given up running 200 metres from the finish line, they could do it and they did, in fact one person then overtook me.... ha ha ha..... I best show them how to do a sprint finish....

It's hard to explain where that last bit of energy comes from but I flew across the finish line. SOmething just takes over your legs and I feel like a gazelle! 2 hours 2 mins was not a bad time bearing in mind the conditions and despite how it may sound I enjoyed this race immensely!

Next year I'll save the PB's for spring and autumn. For now I am happy I got to experience this wonderful race, 2nd Half marathon this year having never run beyond 12km this time last year! I really am still a beginner so I should be proud and I have one more half this year then a gradual and slow training plan for my first triathlon in Spring followed by the Istanbul Marathon in October 2011... I best get used to running in the heat then!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Doing the velociraptor

After what I can only describe as the race I'd rather forget I have been working on some tweaks on my running gait. After reading some articles on how to run 'barefoot' style I made some adjustments to how I run, it has left me running like a velociraptor....Suprisingly it works.

Since adopting the 'velociraptor' I have noticed a good improvement in not only my speed, but have also noticed how comfortable and natural it feels to run.... perhaps I was a velociraptor in a past life?

I have clocked up a few good times and a 5 mile PB today which I was really chuffed with. After a pretty horrific day I took out all my anger and aggresion on my run and it paid off... feeling the pain now though! I shall sleep well tonight.

Other than my 'normal' runs I put in a good 12 miler on Saturday which was pleasant and pain free so overall a good running week. Onwards and upwards!

I would recommend this article for even the shod runner as there are elements you can take away that will help all aspects of running and the elements of training I have developed as a 'barefoot' runner have translated well to my shod running. So much so that I don't feel as much as a twinge on most runs, barefoot or not.... basically we need to untrain ourselves from running with poor form that we develop over the years.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

I want these shoes BADLY

They are amazing 'barefoot' shoes!

Good but not great

So since my last post I have been training a decent amount but not enough to see an improvement on my half marathon time so I really am turning it up this week but rather than focusing on mileage I'll be concentrating on speed work and some hill training (BOO). I have also been squeezing in 3/4 core workouts a week, I was doing a variety of crunches but have decided to switch back to Pilate's for my core work as it's relaxing and far more enjoyable! I will have a serious abs for bikini time!

So as part of my lead up to the Half marathon I scheduled a 10k race into my schedule which I did on Sunday. This was my first 10k in 4 years and although I am older I had high hopes for this one. I was aiming for sub 55mins but hoping for around the 53 minutes but I was possibly too ambitious with my target times. As the temperatures soared and the wind was bloody strong I should of factored how that would impact on my running.

After a mile stroll to the start I was fully hydrated (I checked my wee and everything) had eaten a small breakfast and was raring to go, I was so nervous for this race, probably because I felt I had so much to prove to myself and as I set out I was feeling good. It turned out it was full of proper runners and at one point I felt like everyone had overtaken me, after a quick glimpse behind I still had a good load of people behind me so I was adamant I was going to stick to my race plan.

The plan was to run between 8.30/9 min miles for the 1st 4 miles and aim for sub 8.30 in the closing stages and the first mile was looking good and the heat started to get to everyone, I was overtaking a lot as they had set out too fast or had realised the extent of the heat and wind. I spent the next mile still comfortably running my race and noticed people were overtaking me again, I had slowed down. By now I was seriously needing water, I had a stitch at 2.5 miles just as the big hill loomed. I knew I could tackle the hill, it was a bit harsh but doable without walking..... halfway up it the headwind was determined to push me back down, I started to overtake again and raced to the top knowing there was a water station at the top and there it was, a glowing beacon, my saviour in the extreme conditions. I reached for my cup and slowed down to saviour the cool liquid.... all 1 inch of it...WHAT... I wanted to run back and get more water, I'd been robbed of my water :(

Despite this disappointment I soldiered on, thank god for the down hill... by mile four and after a ridiculously small cup of water again I was struggling, I knew it was from lack of water and got angry that the race hadn't provided for me sufficiently. Mile 5 was a slog, I was playing cat and mouse with a runner until we got to the 6th mile when I went for the final push and left her eating my dust....HA!. I could see how much I had slowed in those miles and pushed myself to the max but with dehydration looming I knew it was nigh on impossible to get my time. SO I got 55:31 which to me was disappointing, I know I could of done better but such as life, it was very tough conditions and with a decent amount of water I would of done better and lest we forget this was my first barefoot race!!

SO after that disappointment I was quite poorly the rest of the day and all day Monday but about 5 litres of water I seemed to snap out of it...

So today I set out again and made some adjustments to my running gait after reading some advice, I wasn't really looking at times but got a good time and a big improvement from previous runs in the past month or so I will probably keep working at that for a few weeks.  Other than that I have a 12 miler planned this weekend, and alot of core work over the next few months. Determined to get that sub 50 minutes by the end of the year!!!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Back on the horse

Sorry it has been a while since I updated, life sometimes gets in the way and between, work, eating, walking the dog etc writing about running takes a bit of a back seat. It needs to come up and join me up front for the Gemma ride so here I am :)

So with 6 weeks until the Newark half marathon I have had to pick up the training a bit. Since the marathon I had mainly been doing 'maintenance' training just to keep fitness levels up but over the past 3/4 weeks I have started to build up the mileage. Whilst at this stage i could probably squeeze out a half marathon but I want to do a good job, with my first half done and dusted, I need to start improving and get faster and stronger ready for the Dublin Marathon 2011

Most of my runs are now done 'barefoot' and will be doing my first long run 'barefoot' this weekend. During the week I am running either 4.3, 5.2 or 6.3 miles and I am running almost every run like it's my last. Since beginning to despise running due to injuries in the latter days of marathon training, I never take my ability to run for granted anymore and even when it's not going my way, I try to do the best I can. As a result my times are getting better and better, positive thinking is the way forward and since VLM that's reflected in my life in general as well as running. Why moan and gripe about something you choose to do, and if you don't enjoy it, why bother? Life is too short to be miserable.

I did my first long run since VLM a few weeks ago, it was 'just' 10 miles but it was a good confidence boost, I could of probably kept going and I felt good after it. This is the point where I could see what I needed to do over the next 6 weeks. My current training plan consists with 4 shorter runs during the week with an optional long run at the weekend (without the long run I'm still clocking up over 20 miles). Whilst the long run is optional I hope to get at least 3 in by race day one of 11 miles, 12, and a 14 possibly. I am hoping this more laid back attitude (although disciplined during the week) will keep me injury and stress free.

I have 2 weeks until my first 10 km race in about 4 years, it's a nice local flat race so I am hoping to get at the very least a sub 55 but anything around 53 would be even better! My race PB back then was 59:32, if I don't beat that, something is!

So the rest of this week consists of 6/7 miles tomorrow evening, a rest day and a cycle ride possibly on Saturday and 11/12 miles on Sunday! It's going to be a scorcher so I'll be running to the very shaded woods for the long one and possibly fairly early in the morning! If I run these training runs, I will of clocked around 35 miles this week :)

Anyway, I think that's all you need to know for now, I will try and update more often now that my targets are looming..... I actually can't wait to race again.... aaaa racing without injury.... BLISS!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

So what next?

So as a full time and full term runner now what kind of challenges do I set for myself when I have achieved my biggest running goal!?

After suffering a bout a nasty post marathon blues it became very apparent that I needed to set some new goals.... and quickly! As previously mentioned marathons are out of the question for at least a year, I want to enjoy casually running again and when you have a marathon on the horizon there is a lot of pressures on you and your life and my husband was well and truly neglected so I'm going to stick to more manageable distances for a while. But before I do that I am determined to run these 'barefoot'!

When I say barefoot I mean in a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers as I am not blessed with a beach on the doorstep! I have been starting to train my feet and legs in a pair of diving shoes (which actually rate higher for barefoot protection on most barefoot sites). I wont lie it is hard work but its making me a confident and faster runner. The feeling of not 'needing' to rely on the support of a trainer is amazing but it does mean you are working muscles that have been barely worked as they've been wrapped up nicely in a supportive shoes. So at the moment the calfs are killing but after a week of barefoot running my calfs are much more toned, my ankles feel stronger and there is something slightly satisfying about working the muscles in your feet! I am gradually building up my inbuilt support system :)

The most notable perks have been the change in my speed, after months of stagnating I am finally getting faster which is great, especially for 10k races!! More importantly my injuries are no longer niggling at all, I haven't had the slightest twinge in my knees, shins or ankles which is making me more confident to go for it!

As i have to build up the training slowly I had to run in trainers today and it wasn't all bad, I was half adopting the forefoot strike and the confidence in me was brimming. I wasn't as fast as when I'm bare footing but I'll happily take a sub 55min 10k which I ran still aching! So where next?

As well as running I have taken up cycling and was due to race a 50mile cycle ride with my husband but we have discovered it'll be nigh on impossible to get to the start line with our bikes....grrrr. So next up is a 5k fun run which I hope to be one of those 'she's taking it so seriously' runners... why not? I bloody! Then in July I have the Newark 10k which I haven't done before but is my kind of race, smaller field, local and a chance to meet other local runners! Hopefully after running these races barefoot I will be ready to run the Newark Half Marathon in August, again a lovely well known race with a smallish field and even closer to the house :)

So that's the plan at the moment. As well as that I will be taking up pilates again to get that core visibly toned in time for holiday at the end of August...... now do I keep running in Turkey??

Monday, 24 May 2010

And so, My race last!

So I FINALLY get down to writing my blog again and give you a race report from the VLM! Only a month late! Things have been hectic my way with recovery, dog eating laptop cable and now trying to get back into full training hence lack of posts!

Today is the day when I really get back into the swing of things! 1 Month is now enough time to say I have fully recovered and now is the time to get my 5 and 10k PB’s in the next few months. I’ll get onto the plans in my next post but for now I will give you the lowdown on Marathon day.

After 2 months of injuries I went into the race slightly lacking in confidence, having never getting my 20 miler and the injuries still niggling I decided, as was recommended to me ‘just to finish’. Obviously in my head I wanted the sub 4:30 I craved but realistically I was looking around the 5 hour mark! One thing you just don’t factor in when running a busy race like this is how much further you are actually running! I set off on 9:30-10:00 min miles, more than sufficient to get the sub 4:30! At about mile 3 it became apparent that I was tracking an extra 0.2 miles per mile as I was zig zagging through the crowds, dodging water bottles (throw them to the edge of the road people!).

It was at this point that I realised that whilst the mileage was getting less and less per mile (as the racers spread out), to get the sub 4:30 I would need to fly! It was a bad time to realise this as regrets kicked in for not taking any painkillers before the race for the shin and calf injury! This was around the point I was heading towards Greenwich, for me a place very close to my heart and a moment I would of loved to of shared with my long distant running buddy, but I could see he could go faster and I was slowing him down and there comes a point when you need to stop being selfish, he’d trained up to 22 miles and whilst his pace is similar to mine he had more miles in the legs for race day so we had ‘the chat’. Prior to race day we decided we wouldn’t leave each other’s side but I couldn’t see him being pulled back so I told him ‘if you can go faster, go’ if he hadn’t I would of given him a clip round the ear, fortunately half a mile on we naturally parted ways and so the journey with my mind began!

One thing with the London Marathon is you are never alone, I’m a bit of a loner when it comes to running and tend to focus on my ‘game’ but as I came through Greenwich it became apparent that this was a whole new kettle of fish! I felt like a superstar, people calling my name  (or ‘pink socks’, ‘Great Britain’) high fiving kids (and grown ups) as I ran down the busy streets. The calls of come on womble were slightly demoralizing as I kept getting overtaken by a walk/running HUGE Uncle Bulgaria. By mile 8 I was feeling good and seemed to of lost the Womble, I think he beat me! So again I was getting cheered on as there was no costumed runners around…. Then I heard the bells, the bells of an elaborately dressed Morris dancer….. this continued throughout the race to ‘lose’ the dressed up folk so I can have the cheers for me back!

Then came the sight of tower bridge, a momentous occasion for any London Marathoner, this is the bit you always see on TV rammed full of people, the atmosphere electric! Now this is the point where I have blanks in my memory, like I remember seeing the bridge but don’t remember crossing it, or even seeing the tower of London! It is only when I watched the highlights the next day that I realized I had ran past all these landmarks! After the bridge came the tedious part of the race, running a mile out to the Isle of Dogs whilst people going the other way were already at mile 21, there was me at mile 13 and in pain. The legs was fighting against my mind at every step and it was infuriating, my lungs, feet and mind were fine but I was still enduring this pain, and so I started to slow down!

This part of the race up till about mile 18 is all a bit of a blur, I had to resort to topping up the painkillers with paracetamol which also meant taking on more water. My energy strategy was failing me as I was burning off more limping. So I started to take on more gels and lift my head up and at mile 18 something hit me (not literally)! I don’t know if it was the jelly beans or the extra neurofen I took as I got a  shooting stabbing pain at the top of my foot but I felt great! I had reached the point of no return and a point where I had never run beyond but instead of panicking my fighting spirit took over. These were the miles I will always refer to as the best run of my life!

As my mileage increased more and more people were on the roadside being treated for injuries, collapsed or a few people in recovery position! This unfazed me, I had drank steadily throughout, I had taken on enough energy and I had worked hard to get here!

Once I reached mile 20 my heart started flipping, I really was going to finish wasn’t I? I overtook a 15 ft giraffe (phew, that could have been embarrassing) and started to lose those who had started walking. More than anything in the world I wanted to see someone I knew but it was impossible to find anyone in the crowds so I treated everyone as a friend and smiled and waved as I moved on! Then I got a text from my husband telling me where he was waiting, I couldn’t leave him too much longer, he’d travelled all the way down to see me just to be there at the finish line as if being a very supportive running widow for 6 months wasn’t enough, what a husband!!!

The next 3 miles were steady and non-descript, I was in a haze of euphoria I think as the streets got busier and busier with cheering crowds, I really don’t remember much at all, then at mile 23 Craig called me to see where I was and how I was doing (yep I can run and chat on my mobile) and I burst into tears as I told him I was less than half an hour away!! Half an hour, that’s all I needed.

This call made me realise I had something left in the tank, I was easily talking on the phone and the painkillers were working so I picked up the pace up to around 9.30 minute miles, it felt fast but right, the crowds mattered more than anyone would ever believe! Just seeing you push yourself and really going for it was enough to make them cheer like crazy.

Then came the last mile I picked up the pace a little more, I pride myself on my finishes usually speeding up the last mile or 2 and this race was no different… I was running faster but this was the longest mile of my life, whether that was because the end was near or whether the brain was in a whole new world where Big Ben doesn’t exist. Before I knew it I had just ‘yards’ to go, I was feeling choked up already which made breathing hard but I also pride myself on my sprint finishes…. Could I? everyone around me was almost walking/limping/falling, were they being sensible? Then I spotted my target, someone I want to beat to the finish line and here I was sprinting the end of a marathon… as I had hoped back from day one, I sprinted across the line in style (and overtook my target).

The feeling you get as you cross the finish line is hard to describe, it’s like you experience every possible emotion. Relief you did it, happiness at your achievement but then also disappointment, could I have gone faster? And also slightly deflated, it’s all over, like the feeling you get on Christmas evening when you were a kid! I just burst into tears as they handed me over my medal! It is AMAZING how an inatimate object can mean so much, soon as it was handed to me I just kissed it and screamed ‘YES’! I grabbed my goody bag and all my luggage and I practically wanted to run to Craig but I couldn’t!

I was really disappointed coming into the meeting point as I heard a group of non runners who were trying to get out saying ‘just push past them’ what a bunch of arseholes, I couldn’t resist saying ‘yeah don’t mind us we just ran a marathon’ That’s when it hit me, I’ve just ran the London Marathon!! All I wanted was a hug from Craig and there he was, standing on a wall, I could see him but couldn’t get through the rammed crowds and as I got closer I saw my mummy and Martin, I burst into tears…. Again and then Craig hugged me and I just felt amazing! I DID IT! I could see pride in their eyes and that meant the world to me!

The recovery was quick, was at it’s worse on the Sunday night, and although sore and stiff the next day I could get around, by the evening we took Brian for a long walk, Craig occasionally holding my up going downhill! I was achey for a few more days but was fine by the Thursday physically. I experienced the post race blues which were horrid, I did want to cry a lot so I set some new goals to aim for and this got me raring to go again.

This really was a day I will never forget, people ask me all the time if I’ll do it again but I’ll be honest, I won’t run London again! I have ticked that off the list and wouldn’t want to take anything away from that experience, I’m just not someone who will do the same thing again and again. There are many amazing races around the world to do!! I think the plan is to do marathons across Europe but for now no marathons for a while, I would like Craig to have his wife back for a long while first but possibly Dublin 2011!

I will post again tomorrow with my future plans. If anyone ever considers doing a marathon I would recommend it wholeheartedly, I won’t lie the training is hard work and you HAVE to do it! Anyone who runs without training ends up on the roadside being treated for exhaustion at 5 miles (yep I came across a few). Mainly I will say this and this only! ‘Respect the distance’ It is a long way, it wouldn’t be such a huge achievement if it was a walk in the park!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Quick Update- I DID IT

After my final weeks of desperate attempts to lose the injuries (hence the lack of posts) I completed the London Marathon on 25/04/2010 in a time of 5 Hours 5 mins and 11 secs! The weeks leading up to the event consisted of mainly resting, cycling, the odd run but predominantly trying to be injury free for race day.

Whilst I wasn't injury free (I discovered at mile 2) I had a good race, thinking now I could've pushed the 2nd half a little but hey that's what a 2nd marathon is for. The 1st is to just finish, the 2nd is to finish to your true potential!  I will give you a full heart felt race report in the next few days when I have got over the post marathon blues, missing running already but need to get well and repair until at least Monday. Body stopped aching but my feet are still sore, need a pedicure! and my weak spots in my body are slowly giving up.... but hey it was worth every ache, pain, tear, tantrum,belly ache,tiredness and god knows what else.

That will be it marathon wise for a year and a half as I don't want to start putting my husband through all this again within the next year, it did take over BOTH our lives so as a reward for his patience for the next 2 months I am a cyclist training for the Great Nottingham Bike Ride which is 50miles and something to train for together! Then its back onto half marathons for a year or so and possibly an Autumn marathon in 2011 (Dublin?)

I'll be back in a few days to give you the full scoop and my future plans including, barefoot running, cycling and hopefully a report on my first run 'back'

Monday, 29 March 2010

Moving things up a gear

Sorry for neglecting my blog. Was away most of last week with work and then spent the rest of the week catching up with training.

Since my last entry it's been all go! I unfortunately had to pull out of my half marathon race due to transportation difficulties (I couldn't get there). All was not lost though despite the injury still niggling I couldn't afford to sit around so I set off for my first 16 mile run. The first 2 miles were quite painful but I started to loosen up and set off. My pace was and has been distinctly slower than before my injury but I am not sure whether that is a mental barrier or a physical one but I keep telling myself that running this distance is an achievement in itself and by running slow now and allowing for a good taper, I'm increasing my hopes for a sub 4:30 marathon.

The first half of last week was a write off due to being away for a conference and not being able to find more than an hour to myself so by Thursday I was raring to go so I set off for a lunchtime group 6 miler and comfortably ran this in under an hour. The the next morning I took on a warm 7 miler and clocked up another ok time. By Sunday, following a hectic day on Saturday involving walking a lot I felt ready to go out but my legs had other ideas.

I had a 17 miler in mind with a loop that would make it just over 18 miles and I have to say by mile 3 my legs were knackered and was only boosted temporarily after each energy gel. I literally felt like I had weights on my feet and with doing laps of a wood it would of been so easy to give up and head home at 13 miles. BUT I kept going, got lost (on a military firing range...oops) and had a number of dogs jump at me.... must be the socks and finally I got to mile 17. By now I was hating running and wondering what the hell I was doing ...... then came mile 18.... a mile from the house...dammit! I kept going for another 1/2 a mile and decided to call it a day, I probably could of done the 19 but I didn't want to over do it so I strolled home the rest of the route.

At one point I felt like Eddie Izzard as I turned into my road to find an ice cream van waiting.... it wasn't for me though :( SO what does one do after putting ones self through such torture..... torture some more of course! Cue ice bath..... they hurt like hell but the recovery rate is remarkable.... yes I still walk like Legoman the next day but by about 4 pm something changes and before you know it I have the ability to bend my knees again! I am now pretty much back to normal and each time i do it I feel my 'niggles' improving!

It's the last BIG training week and going to try to clock up about 40 miles. 6 miles Wednesday, 5 miles Thursday, 7 miles Friday, 2/3 on Saturday and then the big 20 miles on Monday then HURRAH, taper time!! Time to quit the booze, eat healthier and get my body mended..... its been emotional but I'm nearly there! It's hard to believe that 2 weeks ago my marathon hopes seemed to be fading fast....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

New socks and a new lease of life

After 6.5 days sitting on my arse, ants in my pants and feet twitching I was finally feeling well enough (with the help of ibuprofen and ibuprofen gel) for a short slow run.

The weather was lovely and warm so I dug out the shorts again and my new bright pink compression socks arrived so I obviously had to try those out too :). Well it was a good run, legs felt a bit like lead as I expected after a week out of training but I really felt the socks helping my various ailments and the support on the foot also felt amazing.... I have had to cut all my finger nails off of as getting the blasted things on requires a great deal of finger manoeuvres and is kind of like fitting a square block into a round

I was getting a lot of admiring glances from fellow female runners..... Yup I am pretty cool!

Feeling good now, bit sore as expected! Rest (apart the climb up mount Lincoln for a spot of boozing) tomorrow, 3 maybe 4 miles on Saturday morning then Half marathon day on Sunday! Hopefully I'll be more like a gazelle than a giraffe which is how I feel right now but hopefully the cold will of gone and the legs even better :)
My new socks..... HAPPY TIMES!!!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Down but not out

So it has been a bit of a hellish week this week and I kind of hit rock bottom today.

Following the euphoria of my first half marathon I hit the ground again with a big bump. I went out for a recovery run on Tuesday and started to feel pretty good, the leg was still playing up but in general all was ok..... until the next day. I could barely walk and despite icing and stretching to the max throughout Wednesday and Thursday, by Thursday evening it was all to apparent that I would need to give the 5 miler a miss. I opted for cross training on the bike but the plan to cycle for an hour and a half were hampered by my lack of bike lights! (NOTE TO SELF: sort out that bloody gym membership)

I felt ok after that but yet again the morning was a killer. I had a club run planned (after convincing some people to do a 6miler) but 6 miles was out of the question so I went for a very easy 5 miles. It was a slog and after my run I realised that this injury was just getting worse and worse and that rest was in order. So here I am, day 3 without a run and still in quite a lot of pain and pretty much going in sane.

I am now going through the runners rollercoaster of emotions. When I got up this morning I was in AGONY. The pain was coming from my achilles tendon (not inspired by Mr Beckham) and I was visibly limping for the first time. That was it, breakdown time. Walking to work I worked through scenarios in my head and was beginning to think it was tendinitis which would no doubt halt training and my London marathon dream for 2010. I will be honest this made me feel sick with sadness and disappointment and it brought me to tears. Its easy saying, 'oh you can just walk it' or 'you can just defer it to next year' but I haven't got this far, and trained for a goal only to do half a job or have to start again so I am now more determined than ever to get better and back on the road!

I need to remember this is my first marathon and just finishing will be a massive achievement and I would be one of the less than 1% of brits to of ever completed a marathon, even if it means dragging my gammy leg behind me!!

So I'm also suffering with a cold (and other ailments) so I am still resting and plan to do so until Wednesday or Thursday and get a few 2/3 milers in before race day.... hopefully the rest will work and after 3 days of nothing tonight I did some stretching, light pilates and a few kung fu stances to loosen the leg. I am going to keep up the leg TLC and hopefully I'll be ok for race day and this would be a good test of how the injury holds up!

Fingers crossed the few more days of rest help, the other possibility doesn't bear thinking about so until then I will remain positive.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Half Marathon.....TICK

Well I bet the suspense is now killing you so apologies for not updating my blog faster :)

Well I finally completed my first (probably of many) half marathon on the 7th March 2010. I can officially tick it off the bucket list and now punish myself further. I came in at a very respectable 1hour 59 mins and 37 seconds which considering a few factors a) It is a renowned tough course with 2 monster hills (if a comrades runner even refuses to run up them you know they must be tough) and generally undulating. It was absolutely stunning though its just a shame I couldn't slow down to enjoy it. b) my leg is still giving me problems and was looking at doing a still respectable 2 hours 5 and c) I'd been boozing a bit the night before.

So what did I learn from this race? Well I think I have my energy gel strategy sorted, 1/2 a gel ever 35/40 mins (or the nearest water station), energy drink beforehand along with a banana 2 hours before. I think I managed to channel my nerves better than any of my previous races and did not go out too fast, I think I have become familiar with my pace and it felt a little faster than normal throughout and I was right!

On top of that I now have a race time so I can start predicting my marathon time and start working on a pace strategy.... geeky! To boost the confidence further I have opted to not run the Lincoln 10k :( and go for the Retford Half Marathon in 2 weeks time. This time round I am hoping to shave a couple of minutes off my time, firstly it is an easier route and secondly and going to stay booze free for this one. I do have to factor in that by that point I will be at the peak of marathon training so it may be a slow run, ran at marathon pace. I'll see how it goes though :)

I really am feeling so proud of myself right now and whilst to some this would be a small achievement (and in comparison to what I am going to achieve) but this was a huge deal for me having tried and failed through injury twice, to train for a half marathon. I proved all those who thought I would never commit wrong! In fact I have never been this committed to anything in my life (except for my marriage perhaps ;)) and the first notch on the running shoe has shown how hard I worked. I'm not fast, I'm not super skinny and I am certainly not a health freak but I am certainly, officially a competitive runner who will only get better and better as my confidence and strength builds....

Now I must rest my weary muscles and prepare for 7 miles tomorrow, perhaps 6 if the legs are still not quite up to it! They have been through a lot so I'll let them off this time!

Now I will show you the less glam side of running by posting a photo of me at mile 11, after the second and biggest climb, I am actually running and most people are pictured walking so whoop to me.... I think i was checking my wedding rings here as bizarrely since losing weight my rings have become loose (I thought you didn't lose weight on fingers but hey ho).

Please note crazy running hair, baggy over used running tights but my awesome GBR running top provided by

Sunday, 28 February 2010

On yer bike

After a week of struggling with the calf/knee injury I was relieved to have a few days off from the running, the leg got progressively worst throughout the week and by Friday I was distinctly limping.

By yesterday I was living off painkillers and really in a lot of pain. It was getting to the stage where I was becoming concerned. I spent yesterday evening with an ice patch attached to my leg, ibuprofen gel permanently in my possession and my husbands leg massages on demand :)

I was feeling confident that by this morning I'd be fresh as a daisy...ha ha! Today the pain was different, almost a good pain but too painful to walk let alone run. I am hoping the 'good' part is the muscle healing or just my body grateful for a rest. Anyway 16 miles was not even imaginable today.....on foot!

So I dusted off my bike (I quite literally did have to dust my wrapped up, loaded my bike rucksack and went of for a cycle ride. The plan was to spend as much time on the bike as I would've spent running today so my body was still used to the long Sunday workout. I also wanted to cover around 20 miles! Well I was glad to see it was dry but it was astonishingly windy, especially cycling across the flats. On top of that it was incredibly muddy from a distinctly wet week and the Trent could be seen in places it wouldn't usually be :)

It was a tough ride and I pushed it even when the wind wanted me to go backwards. Those who say Nottingham/Lincolnshire is not hilly clearly does not cycle! Half Marathon race on Sunday so this was probably better training than a long run would've been anyway! Hopefully things will be all dandy by then!

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

SNOW, pfft..... whatever

So last week was kind of non eventful in the running stakes. Had a few runs in very windy and very snowy conditions and started introducing the 6 milers into my training. After my fall the previous weekend I am still struggling with what I thought was a calf injury but now realise its more of a knee injury.... it's all very confusing.

Spent some time icing the offending calf last week after runs but to no avail and after a few days break, by Sunday I was ready to go. I was scheduled in for a 15 miler and woke up an hour earlier than I needed too on Sunday morning as I really was ready to take the run on, so the hydrating, energy loading began and was about to get dress and realised there was a weird glow coming from outside. The sky was perfectly blue, the sun was out, no wonder I was raring to go...... shame there was about 4 inches of fresh snow on the ground and still falling.

Now we all know I love my snow running but one look outside and I realised 15 miles in relatively untouched snow would be very hard work, even for the fittest of the fit so I sat tight and went to back to bed for an hour hoping that when I woke up it'd be raining and such luck! One hour later and there was another inch on the ground. If it was that deep near my house (usually a very melted very quick) I shuddered to think how deep it'd be far out in the country where I run to.....

So I sulked for a couple of hours intently watching to see it melted a little and it wouldn't go away so I had some breakfast. What ever the weather had in store now I wouldn't be able to run till at least 2ish..... then finally the sun got warmer and the snow started to melt..... That was it, I set a target, 15 miles in the country was just not possible and too dangerous but maybe I'd do 8 on the roads (laps, Newark is pretty small....boooo). Then the more I sat there waiting for breakfast to digest I thought sod it, I'll do 11 miles! It'll be boring as hell but at least I got out in such adverse conditions.

So I started my run thankful for the painkiller I had before I left to alleviate the knee/calf pain, the first 3 miles were a real slog and the melting snow meant my trainers and feet were drenched and heavy but I kept going. Then I got lost for about a mile at mile 7 (in some nasty estate on the edges of Newark) so I thought, an extra mile will make this 12 miles, I may as well go for a half marathon. I finally found my beacon of hope (Mary Magadalene church spire which can be seen for miles). At that point I found a burst of energy and with the weather now stunning, took the river route back to complete my first lap. At this point I realised I was going to be running over 13 miles and thought sod it, I'll do 14..... And so I did, and I was so chuffed with myself for carrying on when the weather could of been the perfect excuse to have a lazy day. I really paid for it yesterday though (as snowy running really works EVERY muscle twice as hard) and was hunched in an old lady fashion for most the day!lol

So today was a recovery/easy run with the calf still twinging but I still improved on my time and felt quite good. More 6 milers this week then 16 miles on Sunday.......that's quite far!!!!

Something I should share with you all that may disgust you (but I am bizarrely proud of) is my first victim of 'black toenail' a running ailment to be truly proud of and common amongst runners everywhere. The legend say that you get them when you progress from being a recreational runner, to a proper runner....(or some say it's cause your shoes are too small...but ssssh). So my manky gammy toenail is a medal to be proud of, a medal of my hard work and proof I AM a proper runner now!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

34 miles and feeling fine

Another week closer to 'M' day and I'm really building in confidence now. As the title to this blog dictates, I ran 34 miles last week and despite an incident I will get to later I was feeling fine. I did go for a guilty push last week so the mileage will probably drop a little this week (as I'll be doing one less run) but I think I proved to myself what I am capable of now.

This weekend we were away but despite a very early morning on Saturday and trekking halfway across the UK I still managed to complete my first half marathon. I was staying in the town I grew up in so it made it interesting having not seen the place in about 3 years. There were some sad things to see but overall a very positive experience.

Up till now I have been trying to run without the gels (just jelly babies and energy drink) to train my body to survive on very little but for the half (and with it being far more hilly than the Notts countryside) I took the plunge and took out an energy gel. It made a world of difference and having heard the horror stories I was a little worried (I even carried some loo roll with me) but this was the first gel I tried and it seemed to suit me fine. I now can see why they are so important and you get a boost from them that you just do not get from energy drinks. I also found my hydration levels were a lot easier to manage. I generally opt for only drinking when thirsty (as you should do) but found myself having remind myself to drink as I was not feeling thirsty at all!

For the first 10 miles I was looking at running in just over 2 Hours but come mile 10 I was reminded of how high up Epsom Downs was as I climbed Downs Road (a bloody steep hill) when I got to the top I started to recover well and of all the places on my run I could of tripped, I tripped at the viewpoint which was rammed full of people...... Basically what happened was someone disposed of what I think was a metal loop of some description and both my feet landed in it and as I took my next step.... yup as you can imagine I went flying in my now foul mood a few people asked if I was OK and I very unconvincingly leapt up saying I was fine whilst hobbling quite severely.... I had landed on my knee!

2 mins later and my pace had dropped by about 2 minutes and I could quite literally feel my knee pulsating. Needless to say I had a very slow final 3 miles and managed to finished in a respectable 2 hours 8 minutes (even if it was about 6 minutes slower than I was on target for). As soon as I stopped and got back to the hotel and the adrenalin wore off I actually couldn't move properly for about 10 minutes (cue husband to help me stretch out the aches and pains) and it became apparent that the bruised ankles from the force of getting my legs tangled were going to be the big problem.....

And indeed they were, I was due a run today and the front of my ankle was still sore and bruised not fully able to extend my foot, with it being in front of my foot (which is problematic going up and down hills/slopes). WIn or lose I'll be out tomorrow for a 5 miler and get the ankles moving, depending how it feels (I think the extra day rest will of helped) I'll do 6 on Thursday and another 5 on Friday. Sunday will be the long run again which is scheduled for a 14 miler but may go for the 15, that way I can get in 2 20milers before the marathon which could be hugely beneficial.

2 and a half more weeks until the Grantham Half Marathon and I'm still aiming for the sub 2 hours but anything under 2 hours 5mins, I will be happy!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Runner's guilt

So last week after some good runs during the week I was starting to see a recurrence of an old injury, throughout the week it was no more than a niggle and whilst these niggles do hold you back I still felt OK.

Sunday morning I woke up and my ankle was stiff and sore before I even got out of bed. So I got up, carbed up and got dressed for my run. I then got this sinking feeling in my stomach that I just didn't feel well enough. The ankle wasn't loosening up and nor were my spirits. I had to make a decision and decided to take a break from my long run. The guilt that hung over my head for the hours that followed were unbearable but a part of me knew that it was the right decision. By late afternoon and following hours of justifying myself I realised that after 8 weeks of ever increasing long runs, I was due a break. Most coaches recommend it and the signals my body were given were right.

I still feel to this day, if I had run, I would of done more damage than good and would probably not be running this week.... all this understanding aside I am still getting the pangs of guilt :(

By Monday the ankle was feeling better and I was feeling significantly refreshed and decided that after reading a few articles on time trials, I would attempt one myself. I opted for a 10km run, a little over my normal runs and a good measure of my improvements. Well I managed a new PB of 55 minutes and 20 secs, not just a PB but a PB of about 3.5 minutes!!! Following that I felt better about myself and made me realise further how vital taking a rest on Sunday was. I was feeling on top of the world again!

I did a 'recovery' run this evening as I really did push myself on Monday and I could still feel it in my legs. Well in the end it was a good run and the biggest positive was that I felt like I was running slow and so did my lungs but it turned out I was still running 9.07 minute miles! Whilst my training focusses of endurance more than speed (I have never been a fast runner) these little improvements make me realise what my training is doing to my speed as well as my endurance.... That sub 4 hour 30 marathon is looking more and more doable now and based on my time trial I have the potential to go sub 4:20 but I'm not going to push it :)

Now I don't know whether it is guilt or just trying to mix things up this week but following my 10k on Monday I am going to attempt to run 4 days in a row.... another little effort to work on running through fatigue (which will no doubt happen during the 26.2 miles) and pushing myself a little bit more. That will mean that by Saturday I will of run 20.5 miles.

Then I go away for the weekend and having originally planned to run my long run on Monday, I decided that it will probably not happen.... 13 miles on dark cold roads is not appealing. So I'm being a geek, taking my running kit with me, I will be staying near to where I grew up so decided to do a run down memory lane (so I don't have to drag poor Craig around on my reminiscing missions). I'm going to do 13 miles of running past old schools, homes, haunts! It'll probably be a little emotional but a great way to add some zest into my long run away from home..... at least I'll know the area like the back of my hand and the drive to get me around will be my sisters 30th birthday masquerade ball (with a couple of ciders with my name on)!

So that's me this week. I will of course keep you posted and I would like to take this chance to thank you all for being so supportive, especially my husband!

Another thank you to those who have sponsored me already but I still need to raise more, please please sponsor me anything you can, even if it is 20p you can remain anonymous as well if you don't want me to know what you donated. But I'll be honest any donation no matter how small means the world to the lives we are saving. Sponsor me by clicking here

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Im a racing car passing by, like lady godiva, Im gonna go go go There's no stopping me

So what's been going on in the insane world of a marathon runner in training?

Well we'll start with Sunday's long run, after the bitter disappointment (and a few tears) of Andy Murray losing I was feeling utterly deflated! I meant to get out first thing in the morning but I hadn't actually realised it'd still be dark, the prospect of a Looooong road run sent me straight back to sleep :). So I watched the tennis first and by the time I got out the door it was midday and all I'd eaten was an apple and drunk energy drinks. Needless to say it didn't take long for my glycogen stores to deplete. Thankfully I was armed with jelly babies and sesame snaps!! I did pay the price for not eating a proper breakfast though and every mile was a bit of a slog and was permanently playing catch up with the carbs. I was determined to do the scheduled 11 miles (on the same route as last week) and when I reached halfway and it was time for me to turn around I carried on a little further and completed 11.6 miles overall.

The run took me on about 3 miles of trail running too but I still managed to finish, in a good time and without any walk breaks (except for water stops which are essential when managing your fluids carefully). I really wasn't working at all on speed this run but my general long run pace has sped up!

On top of that the shorter runs pace has got quicker (away from speed work) so I am getting faster as well as being comfortable with endurance levels. Had a nifty little 5 miler this evening which was at a decent pace considering I had sleet, hail, snow AND rain thrown at me on a 45 minute run and it was a bit of a recovery run. My ankles were still a bit sore from the trail running on Sunday. I am hoping to maybe get a 13 mile run (half marathon) in next Sunday.

Talking of half marathons I have signed up for Grantham's Half Marathon on the 7th March. At the moment if I ran it at Sundays pace I would finish in 2 hours 2 minutes.... but me being me that wont be good enough, with it being so close to the 2 hour mark I am aiming for a sub 2 hours time. This is a warm up for the marathon and will be 'racing' not just going the distance! 2 Weeks after that I have the very popular Lincoln 10k, This will be a dramatic drop in long run distance BUT I think I may race it as a time trial.... not thought about times for this one yet but possibly sub 55 mins (which would be 4 mins off my 10k race PB)

Anyway, I am really getting into the sciencey stuff with running and exercise in general and it's probably taking over my life :) BUT it has made me realise how much I would love to teach people what I have learnt in the form of personal training and I think once training is done (well not so regimented, I will still be running after the marathon with the Newark half in August) I need to get studying for my personal trainer qualification. I wont bore you now with the sciencey stuff though but it IS exciting.......Promise!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

And so it clicks into place....

So guess what? I've been running :)

Last week I managed to get my first 5 mile weekday run in on Thursday and I will be gradually getting rid of the 4 milers. It felt good and it was nice to push myself a bit more during the week. I bloody ached the next day but that's a good sign I guess that I pushed my body a bit more than normal.

On Friday I did another 4 miles which was same old same old which I have decided to work on. I had noticed I had become complacent with running average 4 mile times and it wasn't feeling like I had a workout. For Tuesdays run I decided to pick up the pace and treat my run as a bit of a time trial. It really is amazing what a change a slight increase in effort can make to a run. In the end I shaved 2 mins off my average time and averaged a pace of 9 minutes a mile (as opposed to 9mins 20 average). It felt good and it was good to break a sweat again and I was really feeling the pain after.... the good kind of pain.

SOooo Sunday's long run (10 miles)! I woke up with earache and a tummy upset and was really contemplating running in the evening but the prospect of a dark road run instead of a scenic, country run gave me a kick up the backside to get out. I spent Saturday evening concentrating on nutrition, ensuring I ate (mostly) good food and complex carbs. Now that I am running over the 90minute barrier I need to ensure I carry water, energy drinks and a few snacks for the way. So i stocked up on Gatorade, packed some Jelly Babies and some Sesame Snaps and off I plodded.

I opted for a there and back route (which I will be doing again) on the route 64 cycle route from Newark to about a mile away from Collingham. This is a cycle route that me and Craig have done before (but up to 18 miles) and its wonderfully flat once your off the roads and really pretty. There is also a mixture of surfaces to run on too (tarmac, gravel, soil) so it makes it more interesting. This run just felt right in every way, I was nervous going into double figures but something just kicked into place and I felt great. My pace was consistent, the weather perfect, my legs were coping fine and there was not a soul about other than the odd runner every 4 miles or so. I felt so good that I managed a 200m sprint at the end (7 mins a mile). No aches and pains the next day too = RESULT!

So following my fast run on Tuesday, tomorrow I'll be doing 5 miles and then another fast 4 on Friday. All in all feeling pretty good and thinking of investing in a new tattoo once I've finished the marathon so I best get designing! Going to be investing in one of these for race day too..... brilliant idea for the target time hunter

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Running, the cure for all

After a pretty stressful week I have managed to keep on top of training and if anything it has kept my spirits high.

I managed 22 miles last week so the mileage is creeping up and I seem to be getting through training fairly unscathed, I have a few niggles with the ankle injury I picked up last year but I'm hoping that as I get stronger, my body will learn to cope with the 'niggles'.

I had a fabulous run on Sunday morning (lovely, sunny and about 8 degrees), and managed to clock up 9.45 miles in under and hour and 33 minutes which is a fair time but I really need to focus on taking the long runs easier. At the moment I am only running about 20 seconds per mile slower/easier on the long run which I feel I could take down to 4o seconds slower. At the moment I'm not struggling with the distances so that may well be something that automatically happens as the distances get longer.

I'm now introducing 5 mile runs into the weekday training and will attempt a 5 mile route in the
morning. I am possibly still being overly cautious about over training as I sometimes feel I have a lot more in me to run. I guess this is probably a symptom of being addicted to running.... is that actually possible? Running has been my saving grace this week and whilst my routine has been disrupted, my running hasn't at all and I could quite easily just keep running some days.
If I wasn't training for a marathon I would probably be out running for a lot longer each day.

On top of the good runs, the introduction of pilates into my training has given me a welcome boost. My core already feels stronger and my posture when I run is a lot easier to maintain. On top of that I'm getting a nice flat stomach.....I haven't had one of those in

I am still in need of working on nutrition. I can now notice if I have eaten lunch a little later or if I've had rubbish to eat the night before when I run so now is the time to cut out all the crap. In all fairness we don't eat it a lot and I hardly have a single item of processed food in my cupboards, but occasionally the chinese/fish and chips comes calling! I also need to eat MORE (yes more) after my long runs and probably after the regular runs too as I'm beginning to notice weight coming off too quick. I never thought I'd say I've added some photos of my long run on Sunday! I do love Nottinghamshire :) They were taken running out of Coddington, (one of the many little villages around Newark) heading down towards Barnby Road (which is very farmy.... wel it smelt farm-like anyway)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Will the snow just bugger off now

I may well be the one of a few but seeing as I do all my running on the road this whole snow and ice malarky is driving me mad. For the first few weeks it had its benefits, my core was strengthening ten fold and each run was a much tougher workout rather than just a run. Now it is getting to the stage where I have no idea where I am in terms of training, I'm clocking good times but are they good enough??? I know this is endurance training and speed doesn't come into it yet but it is always nice to see how far you have come with training.

On Sunday I had a miserable 8 mile run in the snow, sleet, rain, ice, wind etc. I struggled at 4 miles and almost went home (I was doing laps) which was so frustrating as I had done everything right but the weather was so cold wet and windy that it felt like a slog the whole time. It was one of the rare times when i wonder 'what the fxxk am I doing'.

On a positive note the snow had mostly melted on the main roads by Tuesday so I got an OK run in, there was still a lot ice away from the main roads where I had to slow down but I got to pick up the pace on solid ground. Overall that was a good run and gave me a welcome boost following a bad day.

Today I was looking forward to another good run this morning but Newark was covered in black ice (and after Craig came off his bike in it badly) I decided to avoid injury. I was hopeful I would be able to run this evening but then the snow came, SNow + black ice is a big no no :(

So now I have spent the evening with itchy feet yet again DYING to get out and run, by tomorrow I'll be pretty eager though which can only be a good thing. I am temporarily unable to go to the gym so I have taken up pilates for strengthening and toning and will probably get out on my bike at the weekend (weather permitting)

All in all I just moaned about the weather which is typically British of me. I'm not one to usually moan about the weather but when it affects me doing what I love, it is very frustrating!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A quick one

Tried pilates tonight.... on my rest day! What was i thinking, it looks easy but my god I feel like I've done 3 hours at the gym!

Note to self- don't do pilates on my rest days!

Pfft to Yoga, yoga was easy peasy compared that!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

And now for the hard work

So we are now 16 weeks from what I like to call M-day which now means I am on what they recommend as the minimum amount of time to sufficiently train for a marathon. So what does this mean? Well firstly no more slacking off, we are now into the intense programme so I need to bin all those excuses and just do my thing.

I think I have had a pretty strong pre-programme plan which I kept fairly flexible and still got in a lot of mileage. I'm now able to do 8 miles (13km) without stopping (and prob more if the roads were clear of ice and snow) which is where I wanted to be at this stage. All the running in the ice and snow has done wonders for my core muscles (but my knees are less grateful :)) and I'm still clocking in decent times which I am hoping that by the time the snow subsides I will be a lot stronger and faster.

So now the real training starts, I am hoping to do a bare minimum of 2 'short' runs (between 4 and 8 miles) a week but a preferred 3. On top of that I have an 'other training' day which could be cross training (cycling, hiking or god forbid....swimming) or specific workouts like Fartlek (tee hee, I said fart), hill training or any other random sport. I then have one long run each weekend which will start at 8 miles and will go up around a mile a week until I reach 20 miles, then I will taper back down. On top of that I have a weights programme at the gym which I will be doing at least 3 times a week

Just typing that out makes me feel tired but I am determined to finish the marathon with pride, I want to be sprinting(ish) to the finish line and I want to get a good time to show the world how hard I worked. This is something I wanted to do most my life so I'm going to do it to the best of my ability and I always know I can do better.... so I will :)

Not only has the training intensified but I'm starting to have to watch what I eat. At this stage it's minor tweaks like replacing fast releasing carbs (think white pasta, white bread etc) with wholemeal which release energy slower. I've also been experimenting with healthy post run snacks like muffins and ditched the frying pan for the grill . Over time my diet will no doubt change especially when I have to start experimenting with energy gels (yuk). To be honest I cant wait for the pre marathon binge which is basically 3 weeks of healthy carb overloads!

I have my first race on the 7th March which will be the Newtons Fraction Half Marathon in Grantham. Next up will be the Lincoln 10k which will be the 21st March which I will use as a race to get a fast time and then it will be M-Day!!!