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
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
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 Dean..lol). 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
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
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!
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
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. http://therunningbarefoot.com/?page_id=525
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
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
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 wrong....lol!
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
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 do...lol! 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
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
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
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
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 hole....lol
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 :)
Monday, 15 March 2010
Monday, 8 March 2010
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Wednesday, 6 January 2010